Better Lives Blog
Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Migrant Workers in the Mekong: Crucial to Malaria Eradication Efforts

Tom Putzer

A picture is worth... 

Migrant worker in Myanmar

Our Base of the Pyramid Group spent a couple weeks during June in the villages and plantations of Mon State in Myanmar. We shared prototypes of potential malaria-preventative solutions with our end users, so that we could work together with them to co-create solutions that best fit into their lives. And we spent time there in part because one of the groups of people we’re focusing on in our malaria eradication work is migrant workers in the Mekong Region.

Migrant workers along the Myanmar/Thailand border, like those in Mon State, have some of the highest incidences of malaria in the Mekong Region. They often leave their home for months at a time to work on plantations, harvesting rubber, rice, or other crops. They work outside in wet vegetated areas where there are more likely to get bit by mosquitoes. Because they tend to work in remote locations, they have very limited access to prevention and treatment services for malaria. And the nature of their work means that they travel to wherever the work is across many geographic locations. So if they get infected with malaria, they could serve as a vector that further spreads the disease wherever they go.

One of the migrant workers we spent time with told us: “If I’m not healthy, I can’t work. If I can’t work, I can’t provide for my family.” So while malaria by itself may not be a primary focus for many of the migrant workers, staying healthy so that they can provide for their family is important. And we try to tap into that motivation when we develop solutions that could help them stay healthy, be more productive, and ultimately provide for their family.  We’ll share some of these solutions with you in the coming months.

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