FIFA a chance to improve the well-being of Nepalese workers in Qatar
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has long pushed Qatar to adopt real-time weather conditions to decide outdoor working hours, instead of predefining them.
However, Jureidini says the deaths cannot be attributed to the heat alone, citing figures that show that of the 705 Nepalese workers who died between 2011 and 2014, 57.5% occurred in April-September, when the temperature is the highest. Of those classified as cardiac arrests, 61.2% died in the six summer months.
“There is more than the heat behind the deaths that needs to be investigated further. Without reliable data and post-mortem examinations, we are only speculating. Everyone’s just guessing, ”he says. The real task of an investigation is to explain why some workers die and others do not, under the same conditions.
While a more scientific and systematic approach involving the medical community is important, it also highlights the need for pre-departure medical screening. He shared the example of medical screening for enrollment of Gurkhas who undergo a mandatory ECG and ultrasound to identify the risk of sudden cardiac death during strenuous exercise.
Outgoing migrant workers now undergo basic tests before departure, such as x-ray, medical history, blood pressure. The adequacy of these tests should be verified and follow-up health check-ups at destination are required.
“There is a need to increase awareness among migrants. After a long day of work in scorching heat, for example, if migrants sleep in cold, air-conditioned rooms, it can be detrimental. Good nutrition, staying hydrated and knowing when to seek help are also necessary, ”says Kareem Miya.
Qatar-based doctors interviewed for this article also highlight the need for awareness programs in Qatar itself on issues such as mental health, dehydration, temperature control, accident prevention and Covid-19.
Bad recruitment practices, including costs, also negatively impact the mental and physical health of migrants who are struggling to recoup costs.
A worker from Sarlahi whom we contacted in Qatar had to migrate because his parents were in debt of 500,000 rupees. But he himself had to take out a loan of Rs 150,000 to pay the recruiters. It will take him three years to pay for everything.
He doesn’t care much about the FIFA World Cup, but fears losing his job as the matches approach. “I have now moved on to maintenance work, but my company is very small and might not win contracts as the game approaches, as preference will be given to larger and better known companies,” he adds.
But there are “FIFA stadium alumni” like Padam who featured in the documentary. Workers Cup who is passionate about the World Cup. He left Qatar six years ago and is now in the United Arab Emirates.