A qualitative exploration of factors that influence the uptake of tuberculosis services by low-skilled migrant workers in Singapore.

Publication date: Sep 02, 2023

Singapore relies heavily on migrant workers to build its country and harbours a relatively large population of these workers. Importantly, tuberculosis (TB) remains a pernicious threat to the health of these workers and in line with the United Nations High-Level Meeting in 2023, this paper aims to uncover the qualitative discourse facing migrant workers’ uptake of TB services and provide policy recommendations to enable more equitable access to TB services for this population. In-depth interviews were carried out with the migrant worker population recruited from a non-governmental organisation in Singapore that serves migrant workers through the provision of primary healthcare services, counselling, and social assistance. Interviews stopped once thematic saturation was achieved and no new themes and subthemes were found. A total of 29 participants were interviewed, including 16 Bangladeshis and 13 Chinese, aged between 22 and 54 years old, all worked in the construction sector. Four key themes emerged. They are (1) General TB knowledge: Misconceptions are prevalent, where we found that participants were aware of the disease but did not possess a clear understanding of its pathophysiology and associated health effects, (2) Contextual knowledge and perception of associated policies related to TB in Singapore: low awareness among migrant workers as participants’ accounts depicted a lack of information sources in Singapore especially on issues related to healthcare including TB, (3) Attitude to towards TB: Motivation to seek treatment is underpinned by ability to continue working and (4) Stigma: mixed perception of how society views TB patients. The gaps identified in migrant workers’ TB knowledge, their attitude towards the disease and their perception of the availability of TB-related services is despite Singapore’s efforts to curb community spread of TB and its proactive initiatives to reduce the prevalence. Our study illuminates the various aspects that policymakers need to home in on to ensure this vulnerable group is sufficiently supported and equitably cared for if they develop active TB during their stay in Singapore as they contribute to the nation’s economy. Leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic as a window of opportunity to improve overall healthcare access for vulnerable groups in Singapore can be a starting point.

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Concepts Keywords
Bangladeshis Migrant workers
Chinese Qualitative study
Policymakers Singapore
Tuberculosis Tuberculosis


Type Source Name
disease MESH tuberculosis
pathway KEGG Tuberculosis
disease IDO country
disease VO population
disease VO LACK
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic
pathway REACTOME Reproduction
disease VO organization
disease IDO intervention
disease VO time
disease MESH latent infection
disease MESH infectious diseases
disease MESH infections
drug DRUGBANK Coenzyme M
disease VO effective
drug DRUGBANK Trestolone
disease VO Gap
drug DRUGBANK Etoperidone
disease MESH Causes
disease IDO blood
disease MESH sore throat
disease MESH choking
disease IDO infection
drug DRUGBANK Ethanol
disease VO company
drug DRUGBANK Serine
disease MESH hepatitis
disease MESH lifestyle
disease VO Thing
drug DRUGBANK Tropicamide
disease MESH AIDS
disease MESH Cancer
disease IDO contagiousness
disease MESH influenza
disease IDO host
disease MESH non communicable diseases
drug DRUGBANK Phencyclidine
disease IDO contact tracing
disease MESH emergencies
disease VO effectiveness
disease IDO process
disease MESH Latent Tuberculosis Infection
disease MESH ARC
drug DRUGBANK 3 7 11 15-Tetramethyl-Hexadecan-1-Ol
disease VO Canada
disease VO report
disease MESH death
disease VO Equity
disease MESH Oral Health
drug DRUGBANK Tromethamine
drug DRUGBANK Cytidine-5′-Monophosphate

Original Article

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