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Organization of migrant farm workers' health programs in the U.S.A.

Wallace RB
Proceedings of the VII International Congress of Rural Medicine, September 17-21, Salt Lake City, Utah. International Association of Agricultural Medicine, 1978 Sep; :135-140
Problems with organizing health programs for migrant workers in the United States (US) were discussed. Characteristics of the migrant worker population in the US were summarized. The number of migrant workers averages, on an annual basis, around 1,000,000 workers. They are among the lowest paid workers in the US and even when maximally employed usually fall below the federal poverty line. Among the defined groups in the US they are the most susceptible to ill health and have the least access to health services. The epidemiological aspects of migrant worker health were considered. It was noted that very little epidemiological data on migrant worker health exist. This makes it very difficult to evaluate their health problems and to plan health services. Indirect approaches such as tallying claims for disability insurance, workmen's compensation, and similar public health programs and studying the health characteristics of socially and ethnically similar populations in stable communities have provided some information. Factors leading to health problems in migrant farm workers were reviewed. Poverty, malnutrition, poor housing, mobility, hazards associated with the agricultural work environment, and lack of medical care are major contributing factors to health problems in migrant workers. The experiences of a program established by the Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Iowa to deliver health care to a migrant worker population were described. In 1968, medical students from the university helped to set up and man a local migrant health center at Muscatine, Iowa. By the summer of 1977 their patient population had grown to 368. The center was found to be beneficial for both the migrant families and for the education of the medical students, but the long term improvement in the health of the population is still uncertain.
NIOSH-Grant; Grants-other; Occupational-health; Health-services; Agricultural-workers; Seasonal-activity; Epidemiology; Sociological-factors; Workplace-studies; Medical-treatment
Prev Med & Environmental Hlth University of Iowa Inst/agric Med & Environ Hlth Iowa Oakdale, Iowa 52319
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Funding Amount
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Priority Area
Other Occupational Concerns; Grants-other
Source Name
Proceedings of the VII International Congress of Rural Medicine, September 17-21, Salt Lake City, Utah
Performing Organization
University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division