Domestic migrant workers in India returning to their homes: emerging socio-economic and health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic


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Sweety Suman Jha1
MBBS, Junior Resident

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Arista Lahiri2
MD, Senior Resident *


1 Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, 110, C.R. Avenue, Kolkata 700073, India

2 Department of Community Medicine, College of Medicine & Sagore Dutta Hospital, 578 B. T. Road, Kamarhati, Kolkata 700058, India

ACCEPTED: 8 October 2020

early abstract:

The domestic migrant workers were left stranded far from home when India declared nation-wide lockdown to combat the pandemic of novel coronavirus. A large number of these workers were left with no economic support, no food and in many cases nowhere to live. While the pandemic posed a serious health threat to these people, the socio-economic insecurity pushed them towards the edge of sustainability. Many of the migrants started walking back home and accepted a grim fate if they could not return back home. The Government of India initiated efforts to provide transport support with special train services from the beginning of May, 2020. While the migrants started to return to their villages and towns, the states are facing the challenges of preventing the spread of pandemic. The point-of-entry screening, quarantine and isolation facilities have increased substantially in capacity, though the quality of care remains a point of concern. Back home the migrants are enduring stigma, discrimination and poor social security. In order to avert the brewing humanitarian crisis, empathetic administration combined with political will is a must. Prudent evidence-based decision making on economic and health sectors are also necessary.