Friday, July 15, 2016

MESSAGE to the 2nd National Conference on Migrant Health

2nd National Conference on Migrant Health
Advancing the Health of Migrants through Multi-Sectoral Collaboration
Organized by: Department of Health
Hotel Jen, Pasay City; June 17, 2016

Carmelita G. Nuqui
President, PMRW

Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, Mr. Marco Boasso, Rep. Leah Paquiz, distinguish guests, fellow advocates, friends, ladies and gentlemen, good morning!

Congratulations to the DOH for holding the 2nd National Conference on Migrant Health with the theme: “Advancing the Health of Migrants through Multi-Sectoral Collaboration.”

The Department of Health (DOH) in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), conducted the 1st National Conference on Migrant Health on September 11, 2014.  This was the culmination of the year-long effort in the promotion of the migrant health agenda.  The PMRW was one of the partners in the various discussions of the current and relevant issues affecting the health of the Filipino migrants.This formed part of the celebration of the Month of Overseas Filipinos in 2014, with its first conduct of health fair for migrants and members of their families. The DOH led the celebration of the 2014 IAC-MOF celebration with the theme: “Promoting Migrants’ Health for Sustainable Development.” In 2015, the DOH became a member of the IAC-MOF chaired by the Philippine Migrants Rights Watch, co-chaired by the Commission Filipinos Overseas.

The health of our migrants has been clearly recognized in the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families which was passed in 1990, and ratified by the Philippine government in 1995. The convention, mentioned the need for laws that will protect the public safety and health of migrant workers, their right to receive any medical care that is urgently required, and access to social and health services.

As compliance with the Convention, R.A. 8042 (Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos ACT of 1995) passed in 1995, amended by R. A 10022 in 2009, provides that “the DOH shall regulate the activities and operations of all clinics which conduct medical, physical, optical, dental, psychological and similar examinations.” Other laws include RA 7875, the National Health Insurance Act passed in 1994, amended by R.A. 10606 in 2013. RA 8504, known as the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act was passed in 1998. While most of these laws provide measures for ensuring good health among migrants prior to departure, we must have new policies and programs that will promote their health on-site and upon their return. We must ensure the protection and well-being of our migrants during the entire migration cycle to truly consider that our laws are effective in its intended purpose. In addition, the full implementation of our existing laws pertaining to migrant health should be closely monitored and this can be done by maintaining and promoting collaborative efforts with all stakeholders.

The ILO Convention 189, or the Domestic Workers Convention was ratified by the Philippine government in August 2012 and took effect in September 2013. Article 13 stresses the importance of having a safe and healthy working environment for every domestic worker. R.A 10361 Domestic Workers Act (Batas Kasambahay) took effect on June 4, 2013.

The establishment of the Philippine Migrant Health Network paved the way and laid down the foundation for organizing and unifying efforts to institutionalize programs that will provide utmost care and support to the health needs of our migrants. With this collaboration, we expect that prior consultations and the inputs provided by our partners in the various fields may be considered when it comes to developing and implementing programs that will impact on migrant workers, seafarers and their families.

Some of the concerns of our migrants include: HIV/AIDS prevention and control; culture shock and trauma, especially among distressed migrants; mental health as well as infectious diseases and pandemics that might be carried by our overseas Filipinos. Our challenge now is to properly address these concerns and how we can manage and protect our migrants upon their return. The pursuit of bilateral agreements which include the portability and enjoyment of social security benefits among migrants should be looked into so that migrants will be protected from any health concerns no matter where they may be.

We look forward to having a fruitful and active exchange of ideas and course of action for the benefit of our migrants. Hope this 2nd conference will be able to take stock of the recent developments and exchange updates on various sectoral efforts and initiatives in the field of migration and health.

 Once again, good morning and wish you all the best of health! Thank you!

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