DOH Failure: OFWs, recruiters to protest medical exams procedure

Overseas workers and recruitment agency officials will mount a protest against the Department of Health (DOH) for its failure to protect the welfare of overseas workers by not stopping the decking practices of a group of medical clinics.

In a statement, the Federated Associations of Manpower Exporters (FEDAMANEX) said it will lead a rally to protest the DOH's failure to stop the Gulf Cooperation Council Approved Medical Centers Association (GAMCA) from "decking" overseas workers.

The practice of decking involves requiring overseas workers to file their requests for health examination online through the GAMCA website. The group then assigns and fans them out to the 17 clinics that are members of the association.

FEDAMANEX president Alfredo Palmiery notes that Republic Act 10022 guarantees overseas workers the freedom to choose the medical clinic for their health examinations.

"Pursuant to the law, the Department of Health issued an administrative order to stop the practice of decking by GAMCA," Palmiery said.

"But strangely, despite said issuance and admonition fro the Congressional Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, the DOH has refused to impose appropriate sanctions against the violators by the simple acts of suspending and canceling the accreditation of the medical clinics under GAMCA," he added.

Palmiery said they have already written to Health Secretary Enrique Ona and asked him to penalize the medical clinics under GAMCA.

"Unfortunately, our appeal remains unheeded," he said.

Thousands of overseas workers who were principal victims of the decking system are expected to take part in the rally on Monday morning in front of the DOH building.

"For years, the overseas workers have endured the hardships brought about by decking," Palmiery said.

Palmiery said overseas workers, especially those from the provinces, were "farmed out to medical clinics" that were far from their residences, and were required to undergo 2nd X-ray examinations even if they have already passed their first tests.

Overseas workers were also referred to other GAMCA medical clinics even for a "simple ailment as skin rash," and were provided with sub-standard medical facilities and poor services, Palmiery said.

FEDAMANEX is an umbrella group of 12 associations of licensed recruitment agencies, with a total membership of 600 companies.

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