OFW welfare has always been a pressing concern for the government but even more so now, as reports show that overseas Filipino workers are suffering from a number of illnesses. According to a study conducted by the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the most common illnesses are related to reproductive, cardiovascular, and immune systems.
Just this month, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) launched a new web-based application that provides recruitment and manning agencies with a monitoring system. It can be used to check and report on the status and condition of OFWs, including their state of health.
It was also found that OFWs have a tendency to self-medicate because they don’t like reporting their medical condition for fear of losing their jobs. This makes providing healthcare to OFWs more challenging.
NRCP researcher Veronica E. Ramirez noted that there are many factors as to why OFWs prefer not to avail of the health benefits from OWWA or PhilHealth. Among these factors are the medical expenses, and a lack of knowledge on their health benefits.
Because of the new monitoring system, it’s now easier to check up on OFWs around the world and make sure they’re more aware of the benefits.
The POEA is requiring all recruitment and manning agencies to submit an initial status on all their workers three (3) months after their deployment. These agencies will also need to submit reports regularly every quarter. However, for more urgent or critical situations, a report needs to be sent within five (5) working days from when the incident happened.
These reports on OFWs will be closely monitored by the Workers Education and Welfare Monitoring Division (WEWMD) of the POEA. The WEWMD will evaluate reports to ensure verification.
While the system is meant for agencies to check up on overseas workers, the OFW welfare monitoring system (OWMS) also allows families of OFWs to see information on their loved ones abroad.
With this new system in place, agencies will be able to better track their deployed workers. Both OFWs and their families can also feel safer and protected knowing that OWWA is monitoring their welfare and that there is no longer any need to hide their medical conditions.