KUALA LUMPUR: President of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) Dr Ashok Zachariah Philip has called on the government to provide free treatment to foreign workers with infectious diseases, whether they are here legally or illegally.
Speaking to FMT, Ashok said he feared many foreign workers avoided getting medical check-ups altogether because they could not afford the treatment and diagnosis, thereby increasing the likelihood of transmitting the infectious disease they suffered from to others.
“Thus we urge the government to ensure that all foreign workers are covered by adequate health insurance and that diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases be given free of charge.
“It is important to ensure that illegal workers are also treated for infectious diseases free of charge so long as they are in the country,” said Ashok.
He also disagreed with the deportation of legal workers suffering from tuberculosis (TB), arguing that as long as they were compliant with the treatment and recovered fully, they should be allowed to continue to work in the country.
“Let us not forget that many of these workers do work that Malaysians shun. They are vital components of our workforce, and we cannot discard and deport them when they fall ill. We have to treat them humanely,” said Ashok.
MMA’s immediate past president Dr Krishna Kumar meanwhile told The Star that TB cases in the country mostly stemmed from illegal foreign workers who did not go for medical screenings.
“Because those who come in illegally are not screened, they are walking around and spreading the diseases to people here and this is very frightening,” he explained.
TB is commonly transmitted through sneezing and coughing. The disease can be fatal if left untreated. It was reported last year that 17,981 foreign workers were infected with TB while only 47% of them were tested for it.