Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Disease lurking in our house/ 潜伏家中的疾病危机

It is estimated that there are around 1.5 million legal workers in this country. Only God knows the number of illegal workers. Figure tossed around was above 800, 000. The medical examination of foreign workers in the country of origin is a contentious issue especially from Indonesia. Strictly speaking, patient will be rejected if unfit in country of origin. However, they can easily change their identity and get their medication examinations done by a different doctor in a different place, from unfit to become fit. When random checking was done in Malaysia at the point of entry, it was found about 4.5 percent medically fit legal workers found to be unfit at entry point in Malaysia

When I was still the Minister of Health, I made changes and decided that it is compulsory to have medical examinations on the first month the workers arrive since examination in some country of origin cannot be trusted. The influx of foreign workers have resulted in re-emergence of infectious disease in Malaysia. Glaring examples are tuberculosis, malaria, syphilis. TB is usually associated with people from poor economic background with lack of sanitation. However, it is not uncommon to find TB in Malaysia among the middle income and rich as well as children because the source of infection comes from the maid who lives in the house.

Medical examinations in Malaysia while it is coordinated by Fomema, some of Malaysian doctors are also not fault free. Laboratory tests are known not to be stringently conducted, X-rays done but not read, the range of laboratory tests are also restricted so that they save on laboratory expenses. While some of these black sheeps had been identified, nor all the problems are solved. Doctors should not just be blacklisted if found to be unprofessional, but should be referred to MMC for disciplinary action because of unprofessional conducts.

The laboratory fees paid to Fomema is suspected to be bloated (RM60 – 75) because of Fomema’s passing this job thru a trading company. Sometime in December last year when I was still the Minister, I managed to persuade Fomema (lab operator) to bring down the price of laboratory tests to RM40 and Fomema to abolish collection of laboratory fees through 3rd party. To be honest, I don’t know why this decision is still not implemented by Ministry of Health although it was agreed then by the Ministry, Fomema and the laboratory operators. Laboratory should be subjected to the Pathology Act so that they become more professional in their conduct of business. The laboratory test must be reliable and accurate. Once the Pathology Act is implemented, they too can be fine and deregistered.







Jason Wong said...

The figure given by the Internal Minister is 3 millions. We have seen every couple of years, we have different foreign worker policy. People in charge do not know how to manage foreign workers. We do need the contribution of foreign workers to give some sectors competitive, but we should increase the quality of these workers. Many parties are at fault, i even seen case when a illegal Indonesia worker went back through connected channel, changed passport and came back again. Not only the fish head of MCA is spoiled, but the fish head of our government also spoiled.

Funniman1965 said...

A well known dermatologist told me some years ago that leprosy had made its emergence amongst the population at large.

Although it can be cured, the problem is the disease would remain embedded in the skin, affecting all the nerves and become numb. A person would discover it many years later. The only symptom is some discoloration of your skin in patches and if you are a dark skinned person, there's nothing to see until it is too late.

Illegals do not have proper documentation would not seek medication at hospitals and they are allowed to roam freely amongst the locals. Same goes for some maids too where medical reports might be compromised.

Because it is such a hideous disease, people often do not want to talk about it or they are totally ignorant. The younger generation don't even know what it is. By the way, it is also called Hanson's disease.

ras said...


A few months ago I was shocked to learn that an Indonesian woman with permit as a maid, who broke the law by marrying a Bangla and got pregnant, got her permit renewed without going through the medical check up. She paid Rm1500 to circumvent the legal requirement. I therefore assume there must be thousands of similar cases of pregnant or diseased foreign workers not undergoing the medical check up thereby breeding corruption and spreading diseases.

AmyDoll said...

Dr Chua,
i may not know much about the "complexities" of malaysian politics la, but enough to know that it takes ages to discuss and approve a policy, and once approved, they hardly follow through. Its very typical, hardly a surprise there.

Why is there an influx of illegal immigrants entering the country and worse still they get same benefits as the rest of our malaysian citizen by possessing fake ICs. MyKad supposed to be have all these great features of being an all-in-one card, but frankly not even ONCE my card was used for the intended purposes. It's so easy to fake a card, but what if the information inside that card is the one that is vital, not just for the picture and address? I am sure when Malaysia implemented the MyKad system, there must have been the devices that could actually READ the card, but just being redundant. at the end of the day, i feel it's all about money. malaysia wants to do great stuff, but if the politicians and beneficiaries do not get the desired amount of benefits, they'll scrape it off and leave it hanging. Half-baked job as usual. What can many malaysians do? just accept it as a way of life to be half-baked.

I know I digress from the main topic of Foreign Workers and Diseases... but from what I have written, it boils down to the fact that at the end of the day, malaysia will change... but not as quickly and as progressive as we potentially can because of this "talk now, think later" attitude that malaysians have.

i wonder if there's still hope for the country given the fact many politicians cannot take criticism gracefully and stop and think for a second of reasons why these criticisms came to be instead of dismissing them to be slanderous, seditious and a whole big bunch of BS.

Dr Chua, despite your scandal, I thought you handled it gracefully. Kudos to you on that.

Funniman1965 said...

Datuk Seri,

Although many a times, I am quite a critic of your actions but as a Health Minister, you had done a very good job. You do not mince your words in all these health issues within your own principles.

Sex scandal is just another episode in life except it is amplified when you are a public figure. So it is not a huge issue for a commoner like me.

What remained to be seen is how the Government is going to handle all these social pains contributed by these illegals.

We have subsidised health care in some very good hospitals. I went to the Selayang Hospital was surprised to learn that some top orthopedic doctors were lured back into service in recent years.

However, what is the use of these health care plans when the uncontrolled carriers are spreading diseases around? It may sound scary but STD, Tuberclosis, Leprosy are all over the place. But unfortunately no politicians are willing to raise these unpopular topics.

Pearls said...

Again... this is another case of our authorities/administrators aka gomen/enforcement bodies having no INTEGRITY and ACCOUNTABILITY! FULL STOP...

What I cannot accept is the fact that other countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong are able to handle these problems efficiently and minimise the risk involved but we, the country that has so many impressive things such as the Cesar Pelli's Petronas Twin Towers, are not able to. WHY?!

We can all talk until the cows come home and shit, we are not going to get anything done if the administrator aka government, enforcement authorities of this country doesnt want to admit that they are hopeless and useless! Oh! dont forget greedy too!

It pisses me off so much to hear Badawi saying that we are doing good, everything is honky dory, that his administration is doing a good job and therefore, we, the ungrateful citizens should stop complaining, our inflation is ONLY 3 fcukking percent! blah blah blah...Nah! like that la.. we are doing good.. got free exposure to all sorts of life threatening diseases and illnesses la.

If you are asking how to make this right, I say sack the government, get a new bunch of people in, send the relevant people for training in Singapore to learn how they do everything efficiently, come home and implement. No need to talk so much! No need to waste time! As it is, a lot of time has been wasted..

NEIL said...

Dr Chua, This is a true encounter.I was in Pontian the other day and I heard that there are many indon workers who have diseases and when they go for blood test they can use others clean blood in order to pass the test.Just pay a bit more and they can stay longer.No wonder there are all types of sickness these days.

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