At least two Nepalis die abroad daily

KATHMANDU: The prospect of improving their living standards lures tens of thousands of Nepalis to seek employment abroad, but on an average, more than two of them die in the international labour destinations every day.

The figure is based on data maintained by the Foreign Employment Promotion Board, which shows 622 Nepali migrant workers lost their lives in the first eight months of the current fiscal year in different countries.

The number of workers who died during the review period is up by eight per cent compared to 576 deaths recorded in the same period of the last fiscal, raising serious questions about the safety of workers in the labour destinations.

Malaysia, the largest labour market for Nepali job aspirants, also recorded the highest number of deaths of Nepali workers (274). The number is an increase of 36 per cent compared to the deaths in the corresponding period in the last fiscal.

According to the statistics made available to The Himalayan Times by FEPB, Saudi Arabia accounted for the death of 173 workers, followed by 96 in Qatar.

Though death cases have gone up in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Bahrain, there has been a decline of deaths in Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

In Saudi Arabia, number of deaths of Nepalis rose by 17 per cent, whereas in Qatar, the second largest country absorbing Nepalis for employment, it declined by 23 per cent.

FEPB has said that besides natural death, cardiac arrest, traffic accidents and suicides are the three main causes of deaths of Nepali workers. Other reasons include heart attack and workplace accident.

“Cardiac arrest has been a major cause, as workers often take rest in low temperature after working in high temperature,” said Saumitra Singh, rescue officer of FEPB. He added that lack of proper pre-departure orientation among outbound workers has been putting the lives of migrant workers at risk.

Cardiac arrest is an abrupt loss of heart function and normal blood circulation due to failure of the heart to pump blood, according to cardiologists. What is alarming is that 161 workers died of cardiac arrest, while 146 died of natural causes in overseas job markets.

It has also been revealed that aspirants’ heart condition is not checked during mandatory medical test for foreign employment, as such examinations are basically focused on transmittable diseases.

“There is maximum chance of cardiac arrest if a worker has any disease related to heart,” said Dr Om Murti Anil, cardiologist at Manmohan Cardiothoracic Vascular and Transplant Centre. According to him, smoking, alcohol consumption, overwork, stress, unhealthy lifestyle and carelessness in eating habits can cause heart diseases irrespective of the age group.

In the first eight months of the current fiscal year, 54 workers working in different countries died due to heart attack, while 80 Nepalis died due to traffic accidents, 73 committed suicide and 63 succumbed to accidents at workplace.

27 March 2015 The Himalayan Times