In April, President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to provide better services for the millions of Filipinos working overseas. He was particularly concerned about OFWs who were ill and needed medical attention badly and want to come home for treatment but have little to no funds.

In response, a memorandum has been drafted between the Department of Foreign Affairs and five other government agencies to ease the burden of OFWs seeking to return home for treatment.

The Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) of ‘Integrated Policy Guidelines and Procedures in the Conduct of Medical Repatriation of Overseas Filipinos,’ is meant to facilitate the medical repatriation of OFWs who are ill, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.

The Cabinet official underscored that studies have shown that sick OFWs heal faster when around their families.

The memorandum covers both documented and undocumented OFWs.

Records from the Department of Health show that OFWs mainly suffer from cerebrovascular accident, cardiovascular diseases, mental disorder, renal disorder and cancer.

The JMC stipulates the responsibilities of the other five agencies from patient identification to post-arrival in the country.

These agencies include the the DOH, Departments of Interior and Local Government, Labor and Employment (DOLE), and Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), plus the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).

It will become the standard operating procedure (SOP) and monitoring system in handling repatriation of sick overseas workers.

Under the JMC, concerned agencies will provide airport assistance and initial medical evaluation, ambulance conduction, referral/endorsement to DOH hospitals or non-DOH facilities, PhilHealth membership, medical escort services and psychosocial counseling, as well as financial assistance.

Secretary Cayetano then emphasized teamwork to work out the measure. Members of the concerned agencies will meet in two to three months to discuss the implementation of the memorandum and any other concerns that may be raised affecting it.

Relatedly, according to Nursing Guide, a resource site, the following diseases will make an OFW unfit to work in Gulf countries: HIV/AIDS reactive, Hepatitis B, leprosy, malaria positive, tuberculosis, VDRL reactive.

Non-infectious diseases include diabetes, hypertension, cancer, chronic renal failure, congestive heart failure, chronic hepatitis failure, psychiatric diseases, neurologic disorders and physical disabilities which include blindness or deafness. MIMS 

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