Examine foreign workers on arrival

  • Letters
  • Monday, 26 Jul 2004

IN your report, “Foreign workers bringing in TB – 40 new cases a day”, (The Star, July 21), Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad was quoted as saying that despite being certified healthy by clinics in their home countries, between 2% to 4% of foreign workers had been found to be infected in random checks by the Foreign Workers Medical Monitoring Agency (Fomema).  

And in another report, “Fomema goes for a new image”, (Star Bizweek, July 24), it was reported that the random checks are done on 10% of the foreign workers upon arrival in Malaysia. 

What about the remaining 90% of whom there is a very high possibility of some having been infected with tuberculosis and other communicable diseases?  

The Deputy Health Minister also acknowledged there were cases of fraud in the issuance of medical certificates by foreign-based clinics and that the ministry would blacklist such clinics. 

Whether the issue is due to fraud or quality or whatever reasons, the current system is definitely not totally effective.  

After the case of a foreign maid who was found to be infected with diphtheria in January last year though she was certified medically fit in her home country, the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers had recommended all foreign workers be subjected to a medical examination upon arrival in Malaysia. 

Apparently this was not implemented. 

I wrote to the previous Health Minister and the reply from the Pengarah Bahagian Kawalan Penyakit was that the Cabinet had, in March last year, rejected the committee’s recommendation and decided to continue with the system of medical examinations in the home country with a better monitoring system. 

Why does the Government want to continue with the current system and put Malaysians’ health at risk?  

Isn’t it more effective to control and monitor within Malaysia? 

I would urge that the Health Minister and Cabinet reconsider the recommendation by the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers to subject foreign workers to medical examination upon arrival in Malaysia and I urge that this be carried out immediately. 

As we continue to work towards developed country status let us not end up with the health situation of under-developed countries. 

LEE CHENG POH, Penang. (via e-mail) 

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