Many thousands of Tajiks leave their country every year for jobs in Russia and Kazakhstan, but the Central Asian nation is also a transit zone for refugees and migrants from China, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. Like nationals, transiting migrants also have access to medical checks, and the health status of migrant workers is a priority for the Tajik National Health Strategy.
It is within this context that from 24 to 26 April, the Tajik Ministry of Health and Social Protection provided a training for health professionals from primary health care facilities and the Republican Clinical Centre on Occupational Diseases in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
“Receiving countries are interested in healthy migrants,” said Maira Shoinbekova, Senior Medical Officer of IOM, the UN Migration Agency. “When they are healthy, migrants can find better jobs and earn more money, thus contributing to the wellbeing of the host country, family at home and country of origin.”
In line with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations on migrants’ health, the Tajik Ministry of Health and Social Protection has also been promoting voluntary pre-departure health assessments for Tajik labour migrants since 2011.
“Pre-departure health assessments help migrants to be confident about their health, and if a disease is detected, they can get treated in their home country,” said Holbibi Hasanova, Deputy Director of the State Recruitment Agency for Work Abroad. “This is important, since poor health could be the reason for an undocumented status in the country of destination, or even deportation.”
However, to make pre-departure health checks more attractive to prospective migrants, the health centres’ capacities to provide quality services have to be strengthened. This is particularly true for rural districts, where many migrant workers originate.
“The training was tailored exactly to our needs,” commented Suhrob Zokirov, a Tajik doctor. “Now I have knowledge of international practice of conducting pre-departure health assessment among migrants. The training gave me a better understanding of migration and health policies and practices of the countries where many Tajik migrants go, such as Russia and Kazakhstan. During the training, we could also share with colleagues our experience and problems working with migrants, and discuss possible solutions.”
Rukhshona Kurbonova from IOM Tajikistan further explained: “With this training, we not only scale up individual expertise, but we guarantee a sustainable improvement of the services offered and better use thereof by migrants. By sharing the knowledge widely with Tajik health authorities, this will result in updated guidelines for the conduct of medical examination and improved monitoring of health facilities.”
The training was conducted in collaboration with IOM Tajikistan and with the participation of experts from the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation and from IOM Kazakhstan.