Health Ministry prepares a proposal to send health attachés to South Korea, Malaysia and Saudi ArabiaThe proposal aims to reduce the death rate of Nepali migrant workers.
The Ministry of Health and Population has prepared a proposal to send health attachés to countries where the death rate of Nepali migrant workers is high.
The proposal has been prepared to curb the existing death rate and to reduce deformities and other health complications in Nepali migrant workers, according to Health Ministry officials.
"Health attachés would work as focal points between the migrant workers, the Nepal government and the government and companies of host countries," Dr Bikash Devkota, chief of the Policy, Planning and Monitoring Division at the Health Ministry, told the Post. "We believe that health attachés could effectively work to reduce the existing death rate of migrant workers."
Several studies carried out in the past show that a lot of Nepali migrant workers are unaware of the ailments they suffer from. Cases have been reported where migrant workers have died in their sleep, and some have returned to Nepal with deformities and other health complications.
The Health Ministry had sent a team of doctors including a psychiatric consultant and a cardiologist to South Korea and Malaysia at the request of the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security to look into the deaths of Nepali workers in foreign lands last year. The team found shocking mental health conditions and cardiac problems among Nepali youths there.
"Several reports show a lot of migrant workers are not receiving treatment and discontinue medications due to communication problems despite having health insurance," said Devkota, who is also the chief of migrant health strategy drafting committee. "If we send doctors as health attachés, then they will screen the health of migrant workers, and act as mediators between the workers and health facilities, companies and governments of respective countries and the Nepal government."
The committee has also proposed to screen mental health diseases, cardiovascular diseases and others ailments before sending workers abroad. Most of the countries and foreign companies only concern themselves with infectious diseases like tuberculosis and seek medical certificates from workers proving that they are not infected with the deadly diseases. However, more than infectious diseases, migrant workers are found to be suffering from cardiac diseases and mental health problems.
"We want to send healthy workers abroad and hope they return to the country in good health," Dr Guna Nidhi Sharma, a senior public health administrator, who is also a member of the committee, said. "We have proposed to send a health attaché to South Korea, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia in the first phase. These countries have a high death rate." These three countries are also the most favoured destinations for Nepali workers.
Sharma said that the health and well-being of migrant workers have a far-reaching impact on their families, societies and the nation as a whole.
“Sending doctors or trained nurses as health attaché in countries with a high concentration of Nepali migrant workers should not be a big deal for the government,” he added. “It will play a positive role in saving the lives of our countrymen.”
The committee comprised undersecretaries at the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, the National Planning Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The proposal once passed by the steering committee led by the Health Ministry will be sent to the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers to present in the cabinet meeting for final approval, according to Devkota.