Guidance

South Korea: migrant health guide

Advice and guidance on the health needs of migrant patients from South Korea for healthcare practitioners.

Main messages

If the patient is new to the UK:

  • explain to them how the NHS works
  • discuss how this compares to the healthcare system they’ve been used to

Ensure that all patients are up-to-date with the UK immunisation schedule.

Screen all new entrants, including children, for tuberculosis (TB).

Consider screening for hepatitis B, particularly among those who have recently arrived. Korea (Republic of) has an intermediate prevalence.

Ask opportunistically about any travel plans the patient may have to visit friends and relatives in their country of origin, and see National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC), or the Health Protection Scotland websites (TRAVAX and fitfortravel), for travel advice.

Infectious diseases

Immunisation

Ensure that all patients, especially children, are up-to-date with the UK immunisation schedule. See Immunisation collection with complete schedules.

Tuberculosis

There is a high incidence of TB in South Korea (40 to 499 cases per 100,000), so:

  • screen all new entrants (including children) for TB according to NICE guidelines
  • refer to TB services promptly if screening is positive
  • maintain long term vigilance for symptoms of TB even if initial screening is negative
  • be aware that TB is a notifiable disease

Sexually transmitted infections and HIV

Take a sexual history, and:

  • screen for STIs and HIV according to risk as specified in the UK national standards and guidelines
  • test all sexually active patients under the age of 25 for chlamydia

South Korea has a low rate of HIV (≤1%), so:

  • offer and recommend an HIV test if the patient:
    • falls into a high risk group
    • is newly registering in a high prevalence area
  • be advised that national guidelines do not recommend routine consideration of HIV testing of infants and children who have recently arrived in the UK

Hepatitis B

South Korea has an intermediate prevalence of hepatitis B, so:

  • consider screening for hepatitis B, particularly those who have recently arrived
  • offer screening for hepatitis B to all pregnant women during each pregnancy
  • immunise appropriately babies born to mothers who are hepatitis B positive, and follow-up accordingly
  • be aware that the UK has a selective immunisation programme for hepatitis B

Hepatitis C

South Korea has a higher prevalence of hepatitis C than the UK, so consider screening for hepatitis C if other risk factors apply.

Travel plans and advice

Ask opportunistically about any travel plans the patient may have to visit friends and relatives in their country of origin, and see National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC), or the Health Protection Scotland websites (TRAVAX and fitfortravel), for travel advice.

Malaria

There is a very low risk of malaria in South Korea, mainly due to P. vivax, so:

Women’s health

Reproductive health indicators

Reproductive health indicator UK South Korea
Number of children per woman¹ 2 1

¹lifetime average

No data are available on:

  • contraceptive use
  • mammography screening rates
  • cervical cancer screening rates

Nutritional and metabolic concerns

Anaemia

There is a low risk of anaemia in adults (estimated prevalence is 5 to 20%) and pre-school children (estimated prevalence 5 to 20%), so:

  • be alert to this possibility in recently arrived migrants, particularly for women and pre-school children
  • test as clinically indicated

Vitamin D

Consider the possibility of vitamin D deficiency in people who may be at risk due to:

  • covering their body for cultural or religious reasons (lack of sunlight)
  • skin colour
  • diet (vegan or vegetarian)

Vitamin A

There is a high risk of vitamin A deficiency in South Korea.

Iodine

People from South Korea may be at risk of mild iodine deficiency due to inadequate intake.

Country profile

Health indicators and health care

WHO Global Health Observatory has a summary of health indicators and health care in South Korea.

Culture, politics and history

BBC News and The World Factbook provide background information on the culture, politics and history of South Korea.

Languages

The main languages used in South Korea are:

  • Korean
  • English (widely taught in junior high and high school)

Source: The World Factbook.

Religions

Religion Population (%)
Christian¹ 31.6
Buddhist 24.2
Other or unknown 0.9
None 43.3

¹Protestant 24%, Roman Catholic 7.6%

Source: The World Factbook.

Migration to the UK

There were almost 17,000 people from South Korea living in England and Wales at the time of the 2011 Census.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Published 31 July 2014