By Filane Mikee Cervantes
MANILA – A measure seeking the creation of a hospital for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to provide better access to and higher quality of healthcare for them and their families hurdled committee level at the House of Representatives.
During a hearing on Wednesday, the House Committee on Health, chaired by Batanes Rep. Ciriaco Gato Jr., approved the unnumbered substitute bill establishing the Overseas Filipino Workers Hospital as a Level 3 hospital under the direct supervision and control of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).
The bill substituted for House Bills 479,1275, 1642, 2058, 4123, 4195, 5114, 5928 and 6111.
The bill would establish, operate and maintain medical facilities, including a medical and diagnostic center, for the welfare of OFWs and their qualified dependents, and as may be warranted, for the welfare of the general public.
Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, author of House Bill 479, said the establishment of a specialty government hospital primarily devoted to OFWs gives recognition to the contribution of Filipino migrant workers to the Philippine economy by providing the means through which the health problems and concerns of OFWs are eased and relieved.
“Overseas Filipino workers are the unsung modern-day heroes of the Philippines as they brave working and living in foreign lands or ocean-going vessels to support and uplift the lives of their families back home, and their regular remittances have greatly contributed to the stability and growth of the Philippine economy,” Arroyo said.
Under House Bill 4195, the objectives of the proposed OFW Hospital are to provide comprehensive and total health care services to all migrant workers, as well as conduct medical examinations for all would-be overseas contract workers with approved job orders.
It shall also serve as a primary referral hospital for repatriated OFWs needing medical assistance and monitor conditions of patients and provide data to aid in policy formulation.
The bill also mandates the DMW secretary to ensure that existing health benefits and medical assistance programs are strengthened, including subsidies on hospitalization and medical procedures. (PNA)