Document Type

Review Article


Cardiology; Office of the Provost


This paper aims to explore the burgeoning burden of cardiovascular and metabolic disease (CMD) risk factors among South Asian labor migrants to the Middle East. We conducted a qualitative synthesis of literature using PubMed/Medline and grey literature searches, supplemented by a policy review of policies from the South Asian countries. We found a high burden of cardio-metabolic risk factors among the migrants as well as among the populations in the home and the host countries. For example, two studies reported the prevalence of diabetes mellitus (DM) ranging between 9 and 17% among South Asian migrants. Overweight and obesity were highly prevalent amongst South Asian male migrants; prevalence ranged from 30 to 66% (overweight) and 17-80% (obesity) respectively. The home country population had a significant CMD risk factor burden. Nearly 14 to 40% have three or more risk factors: such as hypertension (17 to 37%), diabetes (3 to 7%), overweight (18 to 41%), and obesity (2 to 15%). The host country also exhibited similar burden of risk factors: hypertension (13 to 38%), diabetes (8 to 17%), overweight (33 to 77%) and obesity (35 to 41%). Only Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have some provisions related to screening of CMDs before labor migration. Further, analysis of policy papers showed that none of the reviewed documents had requirements for screening of any specific CMDs, but chronic diseases were used generically, failing to specify specific screening target. Given the high burden of risk factors, migrants' health should become an urgent priority. The lack of specific focus on screening during different stages of labor migration should receive attention. The International Labour Organization and the International Office for Migration, through their country coordination teams should engage local stakeholders to create policies and plans to address this concern. Similarly, there is a need for the host country to become an equal partner in these efforts, as migrant's better cardiometabolic health is in the benefit of both host and home countries.


Pagination is not provided by the author/publisher. This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Globalization and Health



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.