Senator Joel Villanueva has filed a bill that seeks to create a special hospital for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their dependents.
Under Senate Bill No. 1282, a special hospital that will be known as Bagong Bayaning Filipino Hospital (BBFH) will be established in the National Capital Region that will serve as the primary medical facility for the hospitalization, confinement, medical treatment and medical care of OFWs and their dependents.
"We want to recognize all the efforts and sacrifices of our modern-day heroes who have worked hard not only to provide a better living for their families, but also for their contribution to the national economy. The personal remittances of our migrant workers strengthened the account position of the country, enlarged the middle class and spawned microenterprises in the countryside. It would be nothing short of a noble deed for the government to take care of our OFWs by providing them quality healthcare services," Villanueva added.
According to the 2015 Survey on Overseas Filipinos (SOF), overseas workers who worked abroad at any time during the period April 1 to September 30, 2015 was estimated at 2.4 million.
The total cash remittances sent by OFWs during this period was estimated at 180.3 billion pesos.
"In spite of the growing number of migrant workers and the steady stream of remittance flows, social services, especially health care, remain out of reach for them and their dependents," Villanueva said.
Under the bill, apart from the special hospital that will be under the supervision and control of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), regional hospitals are also mandated to establish an overseas Filipino workers' Ward as the facility for the hospitalization and medical care of overseas Filipino workers and their dependents residing outside the National Capital Region.
Each ward shall have an initial capacity of at least fifty (50) beds.
"Other than the expansion of skills training and education benefits and on-site services, the government should also expand its medical assistance program for OFWs who are at risk of diseases and dreaded illnesses while on their job abroad," said Villanueva.
Citing his recent consultation meeting with OFWs in Taiwan, Villanueva shared that four out of ten repatriated OFWs need medical attention or hospital confinement. Many of them suffer from heart disease, stroke, pneumonia, cancer, kidney ailments and other illnesses requiring medical procedures and preventive and longtime care.
The existing package of services under the Medical Care Program for OFWs and their dependents is only limited to curative medical services.
Acknowledging the said situation, Villanueva has also included in his bill that the services of the special hospital for OFWs shall complement the existing package of medical and health care services and benefits to migrant workers so as to include preventive, promotive, diagnostic, curative and rehabilitative programs.
"As bagong bayani, our OFWs deserve more benefits, especially, access to a complete and quality health care. The State policy to provide social services and adequate health care to OFWs rightly justifies a stronger thrust towards the establishment of a Bagong Bayaning Filipino Hospital in the country," Villanueva stressed.