Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.
Skip to main content


Migrant workers face significant barriers of knowledge, language, cost, and status in accessing adequate healthcare in their host countries. Hospitals routinely encounter migrant workers whose need for long-term medical care may trigger the prospect of work termination and repatriation. These workers often lack the knowledge and power to determine, on their own, whether to stay for treatment or how to be sent home safely. While employment contracts and country-specific employment policies offer some guidance, they are not clear on the conditions under which hospitals can support or endorse such medical repatriation. In this paper, I will extend the ethical framework on medical repatriation in Kuczewski (AJOB 2012), by analysing challenging cases in Singapore that involve transient migrant workers with non-work-related health conditions. My analysis will draw on recent research into migrant vulnerability in multicultural contexts and the ethics of just repatriation.

First, I will outline Kuczewski’s ethical framework, which focuses on the medical repatriation of undocumented migrants. Based on the mission and values of hospitals, it specifies three necessary conditions under which repatriation is ethical. These conditions relate to the patient’s best interest, the hospital’s due diligence, and the patient’s informed consent. Second, I will examine the challenges of applying these three conditions to transient migrant workers. The challenges arise partly from the distinctive migration projects and employment conditions of such workers, who are unusually dependent on others and disempowered in host countries. Hospitals also face potential conflicts between their organisational norms, employer practices, and state policies. Through an analysis of a series of difficult cases, I seek to clarify the ethical role of hospitals in repatriating transient migrant workers and propose some practical guidelines.


Forthcoming events

Ethox/WEH Seminar - Regulation of AI in healthcare: what should we expect?

Wednesday, 28 August 2019, 11am to 12.30pm @ Seminar room 0, BDI, Old Road Campus, OX3 7LF

Ethox/WEH Seminar - Genomic secondary findings in inherited heart conditions: a recall by genotype study

Wednesday, 04 September 2019, 11am to 12.30pm @ Seminar room 0, BDI, Old Road Campus, OX3 7LF

Oxford Open Doors

Saturday, 14 September 2019, 12.30pm to 4pm

The Nuffield Department of Population Health will be open to the public as part of this year's Open Doors event. Find out how medical researchers use big data to answer important questions about human health around the world.

Pharmaceutical policies in the long run: reflections on 60th anniversary of the Hinchliffe Report

Monday, 11 November 2019, 9.30am to 5pm @ Merton College, Merton Street Oxford, OX1 4JD

Designing and Running Streamlined Randomized Trials

Monday, 13 January 2020 to Tuesday, 14 January 2020, 9.30am - 5pm