Vol 72, No 1 (2021)
Original article
Published online: 2021-03-29

open access

Page views 1382
Article views/downloads 969
Get Citation

Connect on Social Media

Connect on Social Media

Healthcare seeking preferences of Myanmar migrant seafarers in the deep south of Thailand

Pyae Phyo Kyaw1, Alan F. Geater1
Pubmed: 33829467
IMH 2021;72(1):1-9.


Background: The Thai marine fishing industry depends on migrant workers. Public healthcare services are officially available to all registered migrant workers, but the extent of their utilisation by migrant seafarers is unknown. The aim of the study was to document sociodemographic characteristics, working conditions, illness history and healthcare-seeking preference among Myanmar migrant seafarers in southern Thailand.

Materials and methods: Questionnaire-based interviews were conducted among 385 migrant seafarers and selected participants qualitatively interviewed. Factors related to illness experience and to healthcare- -seeking preference were identified using logistic regression.

Results: Past-one-year illness was reported by 307 (80%) participants, among whom 91% had illness while at sea and 22% an emergency condition requiring immediate transfer ashore. Only 118 (38%) illness events involved visiting a public hospital; another 38% involved private healthcare facilities or drug stores. Illness was associated with supervisory job, alcohol consumption habit, age > 20 years, ethnicity and exposure to hazardous marine life. Compared with the choice of public hospital, use of private healthcare facilities was associated with having at least primary school education and shorter-duration trips at sea. Obtaining medications from a drug store was associated with the job of sorting, packing/storing the catch, non-drinking and low income. Not holding their identity and health-insurance documents and language barrier were major reasons for reluctance to seek treatment at a public hospital.

Conclusions: Illness was common among the migrant seafarers. Utilisation of public hospitals was low. Allowing migrants to keep their identity and health insurance documents themselves and providing materials in the Myanmar language might promote utilisation of public health facilities.

Article available in PDF format

View PDF Download PDF file


  1. World Migration Report 2018, International Organization for Migration. 2017. https://www.iom.int/wmr/world-migration-report-2018 (Accessed 14 May 2019).
  2. Thailand Migration Report 2019. International Organization for Migration Thailand. 2019. https://thailand.iom.int/thailand-migration-report-2019-0 (Accessed 14 May 2019).
  3. World Health Organization. Implementing health insurance for migrants, Thailand. World Health Organization. 2017. Available: http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/95/2/16-179606/en/. Accessed 14 May 2019. Bull World Health Organ. 2017; 95(2): 146–151.
  4. Lwin SW, Geater AF. Ethnic Groups and Father's Job Influencing Nutritional Status of Children (0-30 months) from Myanmar Migrant Community in Southern Thailand. J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2019; 6(5): 944–952.
  5. Parasuraman G, Sivakumar K, Shilpa BP, et al. What ails the fishermen community in ennore creek: a socio - demographic analysis. Indian J Sci Technol. 2016; 9(25).
  6. Malakauskiene R, Health related quality of life among seamen-focus on Lithuanian seamen. Master of Science thesis, Blekinge Institute of Technology, School of Health Science; 2006.
  7. Rengamani J, Murugan MS. A study on the factors influencing the seafarers’ stress. AMET Int J Manag. 2012; 4: 44–51.
  8. McMichael C, Healy J. Health equity and migrants in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Glob Health Action. 2017; 10(1): 1271594.
  9. Peng Y, Chang W, Zhou H, et al. Factors associated with health-seeking behavior among migrant workers in Beijing, China. BMC Health Serv Res. 2010; 10: 69.
  10. Tangcharoensathien V, Thwin AA, Patcharanarumol W. Implementing health insurance for migrants, Thailand. Bull World Health Organ. 2017; 95(2): 46–51.
  11. Onarheim KH, Melberg A, Meier BM, et al. Towards universal health coverage: including undocumented migrants. BMJ Glob Health. 2018; 3(5): e001031.
  12. Aung T, Pongpanich S, Robson MG. Health-seeking behaviors among Myanmar migrant workers in Ranong Province, Thailand. J Health Res. 2009; 23: 5–9.
  13. Lawrie T, Matheson C, Murphy E, et al. Medical emergencies at sea and injuries among Scottish fishermen. Occup Med (Lond). 2003; 53(3): 159–164.
  14. Ohnmar , Geater AF, Winn T, et al. Penile oil injection, penile implantation and condom use among Myanmar migrant fishermen in Ranong, Thailand. Sex Health. 2009; 6(3): 217–221.
  15. Rakprasit J, Nakamura K, Seino K, et al. Healthcare use for communicable diseases among migrant workers in comparison with Thai workers. Ind Health. 2017; 55(1): 67–75.
  16. Entz A, Prachuabmoh V, van Griensven F, et al. STD history, self treatment, and healthcare behaviours among fishermen in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. Sex Transm Infect. 2001; 77(6): 436–440.
  17. Suphanchaimat R, Pudpong N, Tangcharoensathien V. Extreme exploitation in Southeast Asia waters: Challenges in progressing towards universal health coverage for migrant workers. PLoS Med. 2017; 14(11): e1002441.