To further protect the rights and promote the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has forged a Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) with five other government agencies harmonizing the policies and processes involving cases of medical repatriation.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano in his speech during signing of the joint circular last Friday cited the need to work as a team to deliver more responsive, timely and well-coordinated assistance to OFWs who need to be repatriated for their critical medical conditions.
“Through the instrument that we signed, we want to show that our faith in the OFWs, our faith in the government, our faith in the President and the President’s faith in us are not dead because we are doing good works,” Cayetano said in his keynote speech.
The JMC on the “Integrated Policy Guidelines and Procedures in the Conduct of Medical Repatriation of Overseas Filipinos” delineates roles and responsibilities of the various agencies, from the identification of the patient to his repatriation to the Philippines and post-arrival stage.
According to Cayetano, the JMC on medical repatriation is the standard operating procedure to be followed whenever such repatriation is facilitated by the Philippine government.
Apart from DFA, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), Department of Health (DoH), Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Manila International Airport Authority are also part of the undertaking.
Under the JMC, the referring agencies like the DFA-Office of Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs or DoLE-Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in consultation with the overseas post will be in charge of identifying assistance and services needed by the OFWs
This help includes airport assistance and initial medical evaluation, ambulance conduction, referral/endorsement to DoH hospitals or non-DoH facilities, appropriate financial assistance through the DSWD or DoH Medical Assistance Program, PhilHealth membership coverage, medical escort services and psychosocial counseling.
The Joint Memorandum Circular also covers procedures for medical repatriation for undocumented overseas Filipinos.
Based on the 2016 data of the Health department, among the common medical reasons for repatriation are cerebrovascular accidents or stroke, cardiovascular disease or heart attack, mental disorder, renal failure and cancer.
The joint circular on medical repatriation, Cayetano said, is part of the joint manual of operation in providing assistance to migrant workers and other Filipinos overseas signed by DFA and other government agencies in 2015.