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Migration and the epidemiological transition: insights from the Agincourt sub-district of northeast South Africa
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health.
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2014 (English)In: Global health action, ISSN 1654-9880, E-ISSN 1654-9880, Vol. 7, 122-136 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


Migration and urbanization are central to sustainable development and health, but data on temporal trends in defined populations are scarce. Healthy men and women migrate because opportunities for employment and betterment are not equally distributed geographically. The disruption can result in unhealthy exposures and environments and income returns for the origin household.

Objectives: The objectives of the paper are to describe the patterns, levels, and trends of temporary migration in rural northeast South Africa; the mortality trends by cause category over the period 2000-2011; and the associations between temporary migration and mortality by broad cause of death categories.


Longitudinal, Agincourt Health and Demographic Surveillance System data are used in a continuous, survival time, competing-risk model. Findings: In rural, northeast South Africa, temporary migration, which involves migrants relocating mainly for work purposes and remaining linked to the rural household, is more important than age and sex in explaining variations in mortality, whatever the cause. In this setting, the changing relationship between temporary migration and communicable disease mortality is primarily affected by reduced exposure of the migrant to unhealthy conditions. The study suggests that the changing relationship between temporary migration and non-communicable disease mortality is mainly affected by increased livelihood benefits of longer duration migration.

Conclusion: Since temporary migration is not associated with communicable diseases only, public health policies should account for population mobility whatever the targeted health risk. There is a need to strengthen the rural health care system, because migrants tend to return to the rural households when they need health care.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 7, 122-136 p.
Keyword [en]
migration, temporary migration, mortality, epidemiological transition, South Africa, Agincourt, health and demographic surveillance
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-90874DOI: 10.3402/gha.v7.23514ISI: 000336456100009OAI: diva2:732275
Available from: 2014-07-03 Created: 2014-07-01 Last updated: 2014-12-05Bibliographically approved

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