The right to health of migrant workers

June 3, 2013

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The Special Rapporteur’s latest report to the Human Rights Council focuses on the right to health of migrant workers. The rapporteur, Anand Grover, presented his findings to the Council at its 23rd session in May 2013. 

Migrant workers in many receiving countries are vulnerable to health problems. When ill, they may face inadequate access to health care, especially when they are undocumented (‘illegal’). Immigration policies such as compulsory medical testing for HIV and tuberculosis, and the possibility of detention and deportation once found infected, may compromise their willingness to access health care. And finally, language and cultural barriers may limit their access to health information, and affect their ability to communicate effectively with health workers about their medical problems.

From a right to health perspective, the Special Rapporteur urges both sending and receiving States to better protect the health of migrant workers and their families and safeguard their access to health care. 

Listen to Anand Grover’s speech to the HRC

Read the report (A/HRC/23/41)


The present report, submitted in accordance with Human Rights Council resolutions 15/22 and 6/29, considers issues concerning the right to health of migrant workers. It focuses on low-skilled migrant workers as well as irregular migrant workers, and outlines the responsibility of States as well as of non-State actors to respect, protect and fulfil the right to health of migrant workers. 

The Special Rapporteur also explores a number of substantive issues in this regard, including the sending State‟s responsibility to provide access to information to migrant workers and to regulate recruitment agencies; right to health concerns regarding immigration policies, such as compulsory medical testing, detention and deportation of irregular migrant workers or migrant workers with specific health status; access to health facilities, goods and services, especially by irregular migrant workers; specific industries comprising jobs usually shunned by the local population and considered degrading; mental health of migrant workers; as well as the issue of women migrant workers and their right to sexual and reproductive health. 

The Special Rapporteur concludes his report with a set of recommendations aimed at ensuring that the enjoyment of the right to health of all migrant workers is respected, protected and fulfilled.