Sri Lankan migrant women domestic workers: health insurance provision, access to healthcare and health status

January 2014 – June 2015
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This project explores issues relating to Sri Lankan migrants working as domestic workers in the Gulf States and other Middle Eastern countries. Despite academic studies and reports on the workplace situation of Sri Lankan migrant domestic workers, and media and human rights organisations’ reports of physical, mental and sexual abuse of individual women by employers, the absence of systematic evidence relating specifically to health and access to healthcare is a knowledge gap.

This project will systematically collect and analyse evidence in depth about: 1) the gaps in health insurance provision relating to the entire migration process, including in the implementation of existing health insurance schemes in destination countries for this category of low paid migrant workers; 2) implications for their access to healthcare and health status in the entire migration process; 3) policy or practice barriers to effective insurance provision and to ensuring good health and access to social rights for such migrants, and 4) how to resolve this with reference also to best practices from other migrant domestic worker sending countries in the region. In doing so, it will produce and share knowledge that will contribute to informed policies and best practices that will improve the health of a key category of Sri Lankan migrants.

Principal Investigator

Hiranthi Jayaweera


Elizabeth Shlala (London School of Economics and Political Science & COMPAS Research Associate)
Leelangi Wanasundera (Centre for Women’s Research, Colombo, Sri Lanka)


Open Society Foundations