Jeremy De Silva, PhD

GHES LMIC Fellow 2017-2018

Home Institution: University Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
US Institution: Yale University

Project Title: Prevalence and Risk Behavior Assessment of infectious disease among the migrants in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Currently, there are ~2-4 million migrants in Malaysia with evidence of steady growth from 2002 to 2014 of 1.06 to 2.07 million, representing a 49% increase. This influx of migrants has challenged the healthcare system to provide medical care that is not only accessible, but also diagnostically and therapeutically appropriate. Little is known about infectious diseases in migrant workers, as they remain outside publicly-funded healthcare and live in poverty, under poor sanitation conditions and have low hygiene practices. Meanwhile, illegal migrants and refugees receive no health screening upon entering the country. Undetected diseases may consequently result in transmission of these infectious diseases among themselves as well as more generalized transmission in the community.

In collaboration with the Centre of Excellence for Research in AIDS (CERiA) at the University of Malaya, this study aims to determine the prevalence of HIV, tuberculosis, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and several important parasitic infections in migrants in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia via standardized diagnostic tests. The study also intends to assess the risk behaviors associated with infectious disease among migrants including substance use disorders, depression, migratory trauma and sex and drug-related risk behaviors. The data from this study will provide the Malaysian government and refugee-related NGO’s crucial data on the prevalence of infectious diseases among migrants allowing for future screening and treatment programs that are effective for this vulnerable population. Furthermore, this data will help identify key risk factors affecting the introduction and spread of communicable diseases within the migrant population and subsequent transmission to the local community in the host country.