Dr Jerip : Foreign workers with communicable diseases will be deported

KUCHING: Foreign workers who contracted HIV/AIDS, syphilis and hepatitis will be deported to their countries of origin, said Assistant Minister of Public Health Datuk Dr Jerip Susil.

At the same time, the state Health Department will continue to impose stringent health procedures for these and other communicable diseases on new intake of foreign workers before they are allowed to work in various sectors in the state, he added.

“We have been having stringent procedures for the screening of these communicable diseases such as tuberculosis (TB), malaria, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis for the new intake of foreign workers. And if they are found to be infected with HIV/AIDS, syphilis and hepatitis, they will be deported to their country of origin,” Dr Jerip told The Borneo Post here yesterday.

He, however, said those found to be carriers of malaria and TB would be treated locally and segregated.

“We have to be on high alert as the cases of both malaria and TB have been on the rise. So we need the cooperation of everyone to ensure that the diseases could be contained and controlled,” he pointed out.

Dr Jerip also stressed that local employers must send their foreign workers for health screening on a yearly basis.

“As most of these foreign workers are employed in the plantations, many plantation owners have set up their own health facilities to provide healthcare for them. On top of that, they also provide basic healthcare services to the local community as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR),” said Dr Jerip.

He noted that Sarawak recorded an increase in cases of both malaria and TB, especially among illegal workers who were difficult to detect as the ministry had no health records on them.

On a related issue, Dr Jerip called for a multi-agency approach in tackling these deadly infectious diseases.

“To tackle deadly infectious diseases such as TB, Hepatitis B, AIDS and even malaria, there is a need for concerted efforts by all relevant agencies such as Health Department, Immigration Department, Police, Rela, the local elected representatives and the village development and security committees (JKKKs) to be involved and assist the government in tackling this menace.

“Everyone in our society must be involved in one way or another in addressing these deadly infectious diseases from getting out of control,” he said.

In Sarawak, most of the illegal workers are employed in plantations, construction industry, factories and some as housemaids.

Dr Jerip was commenting on news report that the Health Ministry now wanted annual health checks, which was previously mandatory, to be reinstated on foreign workers due to increasing number of them seeking treatment for chronic ailments.

It has been estimated that up to three per cent (60,000) of foreign workers in the country could be medically unfit.

Presently, foreign workers are required to undergo medical check-ups three times over a period of three years. Besides being screened first in their countries, it is compulsory for them to undergo a medical examination within a month upon arrival here.

They must then get another thorough health check before their annual permit can be renewed.

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