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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Solon: Review OFW medical aid program

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Party-list Rep. Marissa Magsino seeks a congressional review on the implementation of the ‘Inter-agency Medical Repatriation Assistance Program’ (IMRAP) for Overseas Filipinos (OFs).

Magsino of the OFW party-list group filed House Resolution 1373 urging the appropriate committees of the House of Representatives to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation into the program, particularly Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), and its complementary program — the establishment of dedicated wards for OFWs by the Department of Health (DOH).

Magsino cited Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 2017-0001, issued on June 16, 2017 which created the IMRAP with the objective of instituting an integrated system and process flow on medical repatriation of OFs and OFWs, to harmonize existing procedures, and to formalize inter-agency coordination and cooperation among participating government agencies.

In alignment with the One-Country-Team-Approach, the JMC 2017-001 included the following Member Agencies under IMRAP: Department of Health (DOH), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).

“However, since the issuance of JMC No. 2017-0001, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) has been established and many lessons have been learned from the experiences of past global public health crises and from the technologically evolving work settings abroad with health implications, which necessitate an assessment of the program and its implementing guidelines to keep them in step with the current realities and challenges of medical repatriation involving OFs and OFWs,” Magsino said.

She also emphasized the resurgence in the deployment of OFWs. This, coupled with the risk of occupational safety and health issues, highlights the necessity for a well-prepared government response to emergency medical repatriations.

Additionally, Magsino said she wants to assess the implementation of DOH Department Order 2023-0003, which provides guidelines for the establishment of ‘Dedicated Wards for OFWs’ in selected DOH hospitals.

“This program complements IMRAP and should be subject to evaluation and potential improvements. We have been receiving reports that the allocation of dedicated wards for OFWs in tertiary public hospitals is not followed, thus our OFWs are forced to transfer to private hospitals due to unavailability of beds.

“Accordingly, they are forced to shell out their own money for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses,” she added.

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