Documentation of Return and Circular Migration Experiences of Indian Health Professionals

1 July 2013 - 10 September 2013


International migration is an increasingly pressing issue in our globalized world. The movement of health professionals has particularly increased significantly in the past decades. This migration of health care workers between developing and developed countries has been drawing greater attention due to the economic and social effects that have been rising.

In the early 2000’s, the Philippines was considered as one of the biggest “exporters” of health workers around the globe. However, Indian nurses additionally form one of the largest groups of migrant women workers in the international service sector. For a range of historical and sociological reasons, most nurses in India are predominantly Christian from the Southern state of Kerala. In the mid-1970’s, Indian nurses were hired for newly built hospitals in the Gulf, forming the first wave of nurses migrating from India. One generation later, thousands of young girls, started filling up nursing schools all over India with the intention of migrating after graduation (Nair, Percot 2007). While most nurses prefer to migrate permanently to the United States, United Kingdom, or other western countries such as Australia, many end up as temporary migrants to the Gulf. Nurses with temporary visas commonly return to India to renew their contracts or to seek employment in another destination country, whereas permanent migrants often return to their country for leisure and retirement.

Migration for the purpose of labour has been and continues to be a family strategy carried out by women in India. Unfortunately, due to the inter-connectedness of the structural conditions of the economy and job opportunities that raise existing and often constricting ideals of gender behaviour and class status, the stay and return of Indian women migrants often involve a complex range of factors which are not solely based on individual decisions or the individual’s experiences

Currently there are only a few documented stories of heath workers’ migration experiences, especially regarding their return and reintegration. Therefore, ILO is implementing a project, Decent Work Across Borders (DWAB) project: A Pilot project for Migrant Health Professionals and Skilled Workers, to better understand the issue of circular migration of these health professionals. This project seeks to facilitate an approach to migration which benefits migrant workers, and the source and destination countries within a rights-based framework for labour migration management. In order to document the return and circular migration experiences of Indian health professionals, a consultancy will be performed.

Consultancy overview

One of the main objectives of the DWAB project is to produce case studies of health workers’ migration experiences to provide a more accurate understanding of their migration journeys. The consultancy that will take place within this project’s framework is designed for the purpose of documenting the overall migration experiences of health professionals, up until their return and reintegration and to identify inspiring vignettes, success factors, and challenges that are experienced upon their return.

The objectives of this consultancy will include the following:
  1. Document, as in a case study, the health worker’s overall migration experience (pre migration, migration, return and reintegration) using the ILO DWAB questionnaire.
  2. Identify the key elements of success and main challenges associated to this migration process especially on return and reintegration.
  3. Gather recommendations on how to improve the overall migration process especially on return and reintegration.
As a component of the DWAB project, ILO DWAB will be working closely with the consultant to ensure the quality of the deliverables for this assignment and provide questionnaires, consent forms, and inclusion criteria for the health workers who are selected to be interviewed. This assignment to document the return and circular migration experiences of Indian health professionals is intended to provide more information and resources regarding migration experiences to potential migrant health professionals. This segment of the ongoing DWAB Project began 1 July 2013 and has been completed on 10 September 2013.