The Health of Nepali Migrants in India: A Qualitative Study of Lifestyles and Risks

Pramod R. Regmi, Edwin van Teijlingen, Preeti Mahato, Nirmal Aryal, Navnita Jadhav, Padam Simkhada, Quazi Syed Zahiruddin, Abhay Gaidhane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Most health research on Nepali migrant workers in India is on sexual health, whilst work, lifestyle and health care access issues are under-researched. Methods: The qualitative study was carried out in two cities of Maharashtra State in 2017. Twelve focus group discussions (FGDs) and five in-depth interviews were conducted with Nepali male and female migrant workers. Similarly, eight interviews were conducted with stakeholders, mostly representatives of organisations working for Nepali migrants in India using social capital as a theoretical foundation. Results: Five main themes emerged from the analysis: (i) accommodation; (ii) lifestyle, networking and risk-taking behaviours; (iii) work environment; (iv) support from local organisations; and (v) health service utilisation. Lack of basic amenities in accommodation, work-related hazards such as lack of safety measures at work or safety training, reluctance of employers to organise treatment for work-related accidents, occupational health issues such as long working hours, high workload, no/limited free time, discrimination by co-workers were identified as key problems. Nepali migrants have limited access to health care facilities due to their inability to prove their identity. Health system of India also discriminates as some treatment is restricted to Indian nationals. The strength of this study is the depth it offers, its limitations includes a lack of generalizability, the latter is a generic issue in such qualitative research. Conclusion: This study suggests risks to Nepali migrant workers’ health in India range from accommodation to workplace and from their own precarious lifestyle habit to limited access to health care facilities. We must conduct a quantitative study on a larger population to establish the prevalence of the above mentioned issues and risks. Furthermore, the effectiveness of Nepali migrant support organisations in mitigating these risks needs to be researched.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3655
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes


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