Hornbill Unleashed

January 9, 2016

One in three immigrants suffer from infectious diseases

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:00 AM

Approximately, one in every 30 foreign immigrants who were tested in Malaysia suffers from an infectious disease such as Tuberculosis (TB), Hepatitis B and AIDS.

More importantly, the presence of millions more with undocumented identities have not been accounted for.

Among us, there is a risk which many take for granted – health hazards have increased with the rising number of foreign immigrants.

Malaysians are exposed to this risk as they use various modes of public transport or come into contact with foreign immigrants.

A common sight everywhere, especially in the Klang Valley, are immigrants from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Philippines, Myanmar, Nepal, and Vietnam who have been flocking the cities and streets, working at restaurants, construction sites, even as security guards, gardeners and maids, as a result of the continuous influx of immigrants, both legal and illegal.

Aside from the possible safety threats, illegal immigrants appear to be a contributing factor to the resurgence of certain infectious diseases in our country, previously thought to have been under control.

Data gathered by the Foreign Workers’ Medical Examination Monitoring Agency (Fomema) revealed that three out of 100 foreign workers who underwent health screening suffered from such diseases.

Fomema chief executive officer Mohd Hatar Ismail said there were still foreign workers who failed their medical examination here even after undergoing health screening in their country of origin.

Another alarming fact is that a large number of foreign workers who were brought in legally have failed medical screening for TB. Health authorities also claimed that most medical certificates issued in their country of origin were false and unreliable.

“This figure involves those with valid documents. Imagine those without permits, how many of them have infectious diseases,” he said.

Mohd Hatar said the most prevalent dangerous disease among foreign workers today is TB, followed by Hepatitis B and AIDS.

“TB is an air-borne disease and they (the foreign workers) often use public transportation such as buses and trains,” he said.

Recent Health Ministry reports reveal that the influx could be a factor contributing to a major spike in TB infection among locals in the country.

TB is identified as one of the six infectious diseases that pose a threat to the population after HIV.

It is transmitted from person to person via droplets from the throat to the lungs through air whether coughing, sneezing, spitting or even speaking.

The latest statistics show that TB is one of the latest outbreaks in our country that is fast-rising, with a death rate even higher than dengue.

The ministry reports that there were approximately 20,000 cases of TB reported among the locals with over 1,000 fatalities yearly.

Fomema statistics show that only 1.2 million foreign workers in Malaysia undergo medical examinations every year.

Fomema, set up in 1997, is aimed at managing health screening tests for all registered foreign workers in the country.

Meanwhile, The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) reported there were nearly seven million foreign workers, including illegal immigrants, in the country.

The illegal immigrant have come here far away from their homelands, taking the risk to make ends meet and doing what it takes to survive.

But to be fair too, before being too quick to pass judgment, take a step back and recognise them as human beings who are only here in desperation to better their lives.

K Harinderan





1 Comment »

  1. That is why foreigners are barred from cooking hawker fares in Penang.

    Comment by Derrick — January 9, 2016 @ 12:21 PM | Reply

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