Unfulfilled healthcare needs of migrant women care workers

November 20, 2017


On November 21, a high-level panel at a meeting convened in Geneva will discuss a new WHO report entitled “Women on the Move: Migration, care work and health“. Available data shows that a substantial and growing proportion of care work is being undertaken by migrants, the majority of whom are women. In Italy for instance, nearly 90% of home-based caregivers are foreign born.

In this report, the World Health Organization (WHO) calls attention “to a global situation in which migrant women care workers buttress health systems in countries where there are shortfalls in healthcare provision, while their own right to health is eroded and their health care needs go unfulfilled.”

From the Summary

women on the moveA global paradox is emerging in which care workers – who are largely female migrants – make a considerable contribution to global public health, but are exposed to health risks themselves, while enjoying few labour, health and social protections. Aging in late industrial and middle income economies, combined with rising demographic dependency ratios and female labour force participation, is leading to care deficits worldwide.

Decent and safe work

Grounded in the Sustainable Development 2030 Agenda and its commitment to leaving no one behind, this report proposes the integration of policy actions, and of gender, equity and human rights approaches, to mediate concerns about care deficits and decent and safe work in the care sector as a crucial component of maintaining global, as well as national, public health.

As part of efforts to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC), the health sector needs to better understand and address the gendered dynamics of people’s mobility and how it affects their access to services, their living and working conditions, the families left behind, and everyone’s health.

Migration, care, health and gender

We aim to use this report to foster further debate on migration, care, health and gender in line with principles of human rights, the United Nations Migration Governance Framework, and the 70th World Health Assembly Resolution and Framework on the health of migrants and refugees (2017). Without political leadership and vision, robust evidence, strategies and tools for promoting intersectoral action, and the empowerment of migrant women themselves, we will not sustain change.

Source: Report Summary