Indonesian Migrant Workers’ Language and Cultural Barriers in Accessing Health Care System in Foreign Countries

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Ratna Sari Dewi *, Siti Fitriah , Desi Nahartini , Santi Setiyaningsih , Fachrurrozi


Language and cultural barrier become problems for Indonesian migrant workers in accessing health care services in arrival countries where they work, especially for undocumented migrant workers. This study aimed to describe Indonesian migrant workers’ linguistic and cultural barriers, factors that influence linguistic and cultural barriers and the strategies of Indonesian migrant workers to overcome linguistic and cultural barrier in accessing health care in Malaysia and Singapore. This study used qualitative method by using descriptive qualitative analysis. 52 respondents were involved, which consist of 32 from Malaysia and 20 from Singapore. The findings showed that Indonesian migrant workers are facing linguistic problems in accessing healthcare both in Singapore and in Malaysia. Notwithstanding, they have less problem with culture. Secondly, undocumented migrant workers faced more language and cultural problems in accessing healthcare service. Thirdly, the factors that influence Indonesian migrant workers’ linguistic and cultural barriers are the long of settled, profession, status of employment, self-motivation, and proper preparation before leaving the country. Lastly, some strategies used by Indonesian migrant workers in overcoming linguistic and cultural barrier. The strategies include using nonverbal language, asking for someone help, do online search and even motivate themselves to learn the language diligently. More contextual with specific cases language pre departure training should be improved to develop migrant workers’ better English language performance in the destination countries. Furthermore, cooperation between home country and destination country, stake holders and NGO are really needed.


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