The House of Representatives approved on Monday the proposed Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Hospital Act, which will offer comprehensive health services to OFWs, their legal dependents, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) contributors, and the general public.
With an overwhelming 255 affirmative votes, the chamber approved on third and final reading House Bill (HB) 8325 or the proposed Overseas Filipino Workers Hospital Act, which seeks to create an OFW Hospital (OFWH) under the direct supervision and control of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).
“This bill is a proof of our continuous support and commitment to the welfare and protection of our OFWs. The creation of this specialty hospital that will be open to the public but will primarily serve our OFWs and their dependents will ensure that they will get the quality, timely and efficient health-care services that they deserve,” Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said.
Some of the principal authors of the measure are former President-turned Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Reps. Ciriaco Gato Jr., LRay Villafuerte, and others.
If finally passed into law, Kabayan Partylist Rep. Ron P. Salo, chairman of the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, said the hospital would address the health and financial concerns of OFWs and their dependents.
“Our OFWs sacrifice so much working abroad to provide for their families and help our economy. They are faced with several challenges and risk their health in foreign lands. With the establishment of the OFWH, they can access affordable and comprehensive health care for themselves and their families,” Salo said.
HB 8325 mandates the OFWH to serve as a referral facility for repatriated OFWs needing medical assistance and support, while ensuring its participation in the provincial and inter-regional health-care provider networks to allow for a seamless and coordinated referral
system for the medical repatriation program in accordance with Republic Act No. 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act.
The OFWH, once enacted into law, will provide 24/7 telehealth services to migrant workers and their families, provide pre-employment medical examination for OFWs, strengthen health surveillance through the provision of a post-employment or post-arrival medical examination for OFWs, and assist and support universities, research institutions, and other hospitals or medical facilities in their studies on health-related concerns of OFWs.
The proposed legislation also requires the OFWH to promote, encourage, engage in, and publish scientific research on the prevention, care, and treatment of occupational diseases common to OFWs, and establish training programs for medical and allied medical professionals, which shall focus on strengthening occupational and migrant health services in the country and the creation of specialized services.
Under the bill, OWWA is mandated to ensure that existing health benefits and medical assistance programs are strengthened for OFWs and their qualified dependents. All other agencies, departments, bureaus, offices, or instrumentalities of the government, including government owned or controlled corporations are also mandated to render assistance to the OFWH for the effective implementation of the measure.
Image credits: House of Representatives/Facebook