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BACKGROUND: Asia hosts the second-largest international migrant population in the world. In Southeast Asia (SEA), key types of migration are labour migration, forced migration, and environmental migration. This scoping review seeks to identify key themes and gaps in current research on the ethics of healthcare for mobile and marginalised populations in SEA, and the ethics of research involving these populations. METHODS: We performed a scoping review using three broad concepts: population (stateless population, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people), issues (healthcare and ethics), and context (11 countries in SEA). Three databases (PubMed, CINAHL, and Web of Science) were searched from 2000 until May 2023 over a period of four months (February 2023 to May 2023). Other relevant publications were identified through citation searches, and six bioethics journals were hand searched. All searches were conducted in English, and relevant publications were screened against the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Data were subsequently imported into NVivo 14, and thematic analysis was conducted. RESULTS: We identified 18 papers with substantial bioethical analysis. Ethical concepts that guide the analysis were 'capability, agency, dignity', 'vulnerability', 'precarity, complicity, and structural violence' (n=7). Ethical issues were discussed from the perspective of research ethics (n=9), clinical ethics (n=1) and public health ethics (n=1). All publications are from researchers based in Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia. Research gaps identified include the need for more research involving migrant children, research from migrant-sending countries, studies on quality of migrant healthcare, participatory health research, and research with internal migrants. CONCLUSIONS: More empirical research is necessary to better understand the ethical issues that exist in the domains of research, clinical care, and public health. Critical examination of the interplay between migration, health and ethics with consideration of the diverse factors and contexts involved is crucial for the advancement of migration health ethics in SEA.

Original publication




Journal article


Wellcome Open Res

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Bioethics, Clinical Ethics, Migrants, Migration Health, Public Health Ethics, Refugees, Research Ethics, Southeast Asia