Medical repatriation for OFWs gets boost from DFA, 5 govt agencies

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Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who may need to return to the Philippines for treatment of their illnesses will find it easier to do so after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) signed a memorandum circular with five other government agencies to facilitate the processes involving their medical repatriation.

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In his speech during the signing of the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC), Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano emphasized the need to work as a team to deliver a more responsive, timely, and well-coordinated assistance to OFWs who need to come home because of critical medical conditions.

As part of the continuous effort to further protect the rights and promote the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFW), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has forged a Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) with five other government agencies harmonizing the policies and processes involving medical repatriation cases.

Apart from DFA, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) signed the circular.

The JMC on the “Integrated Policy Guidelines and Procedures in the Conduct of Medical Repatriation of Overseas Filipinos” delineates the roles and responsibilities of the various agencies from the identification of the patient to its transportation to the Philippines and post-arrival stage.

Cayetano said the JMC on medical repatriation would be the standard operating procedure (SOP) to be followed whenever the Philippine government would facilitate a medical repatriation.

Based on the 2016 data of the DOH, among the common medical reasons for repatriation were cerebrovascular accidents or stroke, cardiovascular disease or heart attack, mental disorder, renal failure and cancer.

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 charged in identifying the needed assistance and services of OFWs.

This will include 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 JMC also covers procedures for medical repatriation for undocumented Filipinos.

The joint circular on medical repatriation, Cayetano said, was part of the joint manual of operation in providing assistance to migrant workers and other Filipinos overseas signed by the DFA and other government agencies in 2015.

“Through the instrument that we are 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 is not dead because we are doing good works,” Cayetano said.

JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

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