SAGE Open (Mar 2020)

Health Status and Illness Experiences of Refugee Scavengers in Pakistan

  • Beenish Malik,
  • Novel Lyndon,
  • Yew Wong Chin

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 10


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Scavengers are continuously exposed to several health hazards which affect their quality of life. The phenomenon of scavenging in Pakistan is on the rise but literature on scavengers’ health and illness is limited. Hence, this study intends to add to the knowledge by exploring the health status and illness experiences of refugee scavengers using phenomenology approach. Thirty-one adult male Afghan refugee scavengers (with at least 5 years of work experience) were recruited in this qualitative study through purposive sampling. To collect the lived experiences, this study predominantly relied on open-ended, face-to-face, semistructured, and in-depth interviews by using an interview protocol. The qualitative data analyzed with Max van Manen’s hermeneutic phenomenological reflection revealed that all the scavengers were experiencing multiple health problems ranging from minor to chronic illnesses. These health issues were frequent in nature and had affected their overall life mostly daily activities, job, and earnings. The study concludes with the need to increase literacy among scavengers, raise their health awareness and usage of personal protective equipment at work.