Research being carried out under the joint UNRISD-Sun Yat-sen Center for Migrant Health Policy project on Migration and Health in China
was presented at the Second Global Symposium on Health Systems Research
in Beijing earlier this month. The research framed the only sessions at the four day symposium dedicated to addressing the issue of migration and health. This important topic remains under-researched and is vital to improving the social welfare of the largely neglected migrant population that has been, and continues to be, key to the economic growth and development of China.
The symposium saw over 1,700 participants from more than 100 countries gather to discuss, debate and shape the global agenda on universal health coverage. The symposium is organized by a World Health Organization (WHO)-based secretariat and is convened to discuss ways to support Health Systems Research and the use of evidence in decision-making in low- and middle-income countries.
The research being presented as part of this joint project provided empirical evidence of some of the major health challenges confronted by the migrant population of China. It also explored the impacts of migration on health, as well as how the design and implementation of health and social policies affects health care access, utilization and health outcomes.
The first session, Migration and Health in China: Policy Responses and Effects, included presentations of the following papers:
- Migration and health in China: An empirical analysis
- Tracking migration and health with uses of longitudinal study: Thailand’s experiences
- Does New Cooperative Medical Scheme make a difference in healthcare for migrant workers over time
- Migration and health in China: Bridging the gaps in policy aims and the reality of medical services to migrants
- Health implications of social protection to rural-urban migrants in China
This session explored the impacts of migration on health, as well as how the design and implementation of health and social policies affect the access and utilization of health care and other social services, and consequently health outcomes, of migrants and their families.
Through analysing longitudinal micro-level data of China and Thailand respectively, papers 1 and 2 empirically assess the overall impact of migration on the health of migrants as compared with non-migrants. Using data from China, papers 3 to 5 analyse health insurance schemes and other social protection policies in China. And they examine policy gaps in providing equitable access to health and other social services to Chinese migrants and their families. They also provide explanations for the kinds of health disparities and negative impacts on migrant health revealed in papers 1 and 2.
While identifying knowledge gaps in the existing migration health and policy research, the papers collectively shed light on the institutions, policies and politics that work in synergy to promote better health for migrants such as social protection schemes like universal health coverage.
The second session, Migration and Health in China: Health Challenges, Knowledge Gaps and Policy Implications, included presentations of the following papers:
- Reproductive health of migrants: Service use and outcomes
- Physical and mental health among left-behind children and adolescents in rural China
- Effects of rural-to-urban migration on mental health of adult migrants and migrant children in urban destinations
- Assessing health system challenges related to international migration and mobility from and to China
- Two decades of research on migrant health in China: The emphasis, trends and gaps and lessons for the future research
This session provided empirical evidence of some of the major health challenges confronted by the migrant population in China, including workers and their families. It also analysed the underlying social, economic and policy factors that explain the health disparities between migrants and non-migrants.
Papers 1 to 3 address a set of major health challenges among migrants, covering reproductive, maternal and mental health of migrant workers, as well as the physical and psychological health of left-behind children and adolescents. Paper 4 examines the health system challenges relating to international migration to and from China, which is largely neglected in current policy discussions. Paper 5 summarizes key findings regarding knowledge gaps in existing migrant health research and highlights future research directions.
The project upon which these presentations were based is a collaboration between UNRISD and a local partner, Sun Yat-sen Center for Migrant Health Policy at Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China. The project is bringing together scholars, civil society, practitioners and policy makers to provide a comprehensive assessment of the health challenges associated with the massive rural to urban migration in China. The project is also identifying knowledge gaps and examining the institutions, policies and politics that can work in synergy to promote equitable, accessible, efficient and quality health services. This research will contribute to a better understanding of the health and policy challenges faced by China and many other countries experiencing massive population mobility in the process of urbanization and economic growth. As part of the research partnership, the project aims to build up the research network and capacity on migration and health in China.