Migrant health issues ignored in Bangladesh

Bangladesh government pays no attention to the thousands of the country’s workers who toil abroad without getting proper treatment during sickness or suffering injuries at work.

On return home also they don’t get proper medical treatment, said campaigners for the migrant workers’ rights as well as officials.

Such negligence only point to the fact that the authorities are only interested in the hard earned foreign exchange remitted by the workers, they said.

The authorities show no interest in the wellbeing of the workers, they said.

The government lacks a coherent policy to protect the migrant workers’ interests, they said.

The campaigners for safeguarding the rights of the migrant workers said that the government should treat the health issue of the migrant workers with utmost importance.

They demanded providing compulsory health insurance coverage to all the workers before they leave the country to work abroad so that at least on return home they could get the needed medical treatment.

On return home many of the workers suffer from various chronic as well as communicable diseases and workplace injuries without proper treatment, said officials.

On return home many of the workers end up at Dhaka Medical College Hospital to seek treatment though they had left for abroad in good health shows the pre-departure check-up, said senior officials at the ministry of expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment.

They admitted that no attention was paid to the migrant workers health issues in the absence of well defined policy guidelines to deal with the matter.

Many of the workers return home with various complications including mental sickness and even AIDS only to face neglect, said Obhibashi Karmi Unnanayan Programme, better known as OKUP, chairman Shakirul Islam.

Quoting a government report, he said that 30 per cent of 469 persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 2015 were either returnee migrants or their spouses.

Migrant’s health issues are neglected both by the host countries as well as the sending country, said Syed Saiful Haque, chairman of WARBE Development Foundation, which works with the migrants’ rights.

Dhaka University professor and migration specialist CR Abrar said that even young migrants come back dead mainly due to working without protective gears and unhygienic living conditions abroad.

He said that the government should prepare the data base of the returnees with the records of the health problems they faced abroad.

Lina Akter from Rampal, Munshigonj told this correspondent that she spent all the money she had brought from Lebanon , where she worked, on the treatment of the injuries she suffered in an accident she had met in Beirut.

Lina Akter who can’t walk said that as she had to spend all her saving to meet the costs of treatment in Beirut her air fare on way back home was borne by Bangladeshi colleagues in the Lebanese capital.

She said that now she had no money even to bear the education expenses of her 13-year old son.

According to OKUP, Rina Akhter from Gaffargaon, Mymensingh died of AIDS on return from Lebanon where she worked as a domestic help.

Okup said she died after receiving brief treatments at Dhaka Medical College Hospital and ICDDR,B.

Minister for expatriate welfare and overseas employment Nurul Islam admitted that the country lacked a migrant health policy.

Even then, he said  ailing migrants were given treatment at government hospitals on their return home.

Their treatment costs are drawn from the welfare fund created with contributions from the migrant workers, he said.

Migrationnewsbd.com/ob

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