Foreign Workers’ Medical Examination Monitoring Agency (Fomema) panel clinics and X-ray centres will soon be equipped with a biometric fingerprint identification system. The implementation is expected to roll out in over 3,000 practices nationwide by October 2017.

Falsification of documents and fraudulent check-ups can be eliminated

Under this new plan, all foreign workers undergoing their medical check-up will be subjected to biometric identification to verify and cross-check their identities with the Malaysian Immigration System (myIMMs). The Immigration Department resorted to this measure due to the problem of identity fraud that has aided in thousands of medically unfit foreign passing medical examinations.

“This new system provides another layer in terms of biometric identification. This is because we have found quite a number of cases where other individuals had gone for the checkups in place of the foreign workers,” elaborated Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali, at the launch at Klinik Ajwa in Shah Alam. He also said that it was aimed at restricting the spread of infectious diseases in the country.

Mustafar said that the system had previously been implemented but its implementation at the Fomema clinics was not comprehensive. It is thought that there have been reports of employers sending other people to stand in for foreign workers – deemed to be medical unfit – just to pass the health checks. “The number of cases is small; but we do not want to compromise in this matter as we only want healthy workers employed in our country,” he asserted.

“When foreign workers first enter the country, their biometrics are scanned into myIMMs. Upon discovering those whose identity is found to be fraudulent, or are not registered workers – the medical check-up will not take place, and we will take action against the employer, as well as those who acted as the employee,” he warned.

System to curb the spread of communicable diseases

Mustafar also shared that 407,870 medical examinations have been carried out on foreign workers since January this year. From that, 10,618 failed the check-up due to various medical conditions. “This is very serious. These are the ones we were able to detect,” he added.

The most common diseases discovered include tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and hepatitis, he relayed. Most of the workers who failed the screening were from Indonesia, Nepal and Bangladesh. “This biometric system is the best way to keep track and it is also very unlikely to be hacked. With it in place, we can easily monitor and deport those who fail the Fomema screening at an early stage,” he iterated.

The news of this implementation was not well received by all parties. Klang MP Charles Santiago spoke to a publication following the system’s launch, stating his doubts of this new method in tackling the spread of communicable diseases. He expressed that while it does look good “on paper”; he remained sceptical. “Illegal immigrants would opt for clinics that are less stringent in their medical check-ups compared to Fomema clinics,” he remarked.

On top of that, he said that documented foreign workers might already have been sick when they enter the country and “the tests in their home countries might not have been properly done”. Santiago stressed on the importance of making healthcare affordable for foreign workers to encourage them to seek it.

“Foreigners must be able to seek healthcare at affordable prices. Otherwise they will decide not to when they do get sick,” added Santiago. MIMS

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