On 3 June, the Philippine House of Representatives approved House Bill 9202 which seeks to establish the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Hospital with at least tertiary level of care. The bill adopts an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development of OFW’s and their dependents and will be under the full administrative and technical supervision of the Department of Health (DOH).
To ensure the availability, accessibility and affordability of quality health care, the OFW Hospital shall have the following objectives :
Provide comprehensive and total health care services to all migrant workers, including Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) contributors whether active or non-active, and their legal dependents
Conduct Medical examinations to ensure the physical and mental capability of would-be overseas contract workers duly covered by an approved job order
Serve as primary referral hospital for repatriated OFWs needing Medical assistance and support
Set up systems that will effectively monitor the condition of patients and to generate relevant health information and data for policy formulation
Participate in the health care provider networks and arrangements relative to the implementation of Republic Act No. 11223 or the “Universal Health Care Act.
In addition, to make procurement of Medical devices and equipment economical, one of the relevant stipulations of the bill is that the importation of equipment, machinery and spare parts, which are used solely and exclusively for the operation of the OFW Hospital and are not available locally, shall be exempt from value-added tax and customs duty.
Despite improvements in occupational health and safety worldwide, OFWs suffer from a growing list of physical and mental health problems due to risks associated with the nature of their employments. In 2017, the DOH provided assistance to 101 Medically repatriated overseas Filipinos, with neurologic, cardiovascular and cancer problems were the top cases for Medical repatriation.
According to the most recent survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority, the number of OFWs from April to September 2018 was estimated at 2.3 million. Among occupation groups, elementary occupations was the biggest group of OFWs at almost 40%. Elementary occupations consist of simple and routine tasks which mainly require the use of hand-held tools and often some physical effort and include jobs such as street vendors, laborers and domestic helpers. Other large occupation groups were the service and sales workers and plant and machine operators and assemblers. In terms of demographics, almost 60 percent were females, with about half aged between 25 to 34 years old, and about 15% were females 45 years and older. On the other hand, about 40% of males are between 25 to 34 years old, while about 20% were 45 years up.
(Sources: House of Representatives; Inquirer.Net; Philippine Statistics Authority)