Emerging and Re-emerging Diseases: The Migrant Factor
Many nation states, including Malaysia are undergoing development and modernization brings tremendous achievements related to social and economic well-being, on the other hand, it also brings along with it the various untoward effects on the nation. One of the main factors which have an impact on modernization, mass migration of rural populations to the urban areas, has been on going in Malaysia since the seventies.
In the early nineties, the robust economic development in Malaysia necessitated the import of foreign labour from the neighbouring countries in order to provide cheap labour in the labour intensive industries. This demographic changes, internal and foreign migration, parallels the economic progress of the host countries.
According to the latest report from the Immigration Department, there are more than 1.2 million registered foreign workers (up to January 1998) in Malaysia. This figure may exceed 2 million if we take into consideration the illegal immigrants and this is a big proportion (about 10%) of foreign workers in which has Malaysia's population of approximately 20 million. The presence of such a big number of foreign workers during less than a decade is not merely an immigration issue, but it is major concern for the nation especially with respect to health care, housing and education. As the immigrant community is highly dynamic, the emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases are a great concern for Malaysia especially in formulating health policies for Malaysia currently and in the future.
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