SINGAPORE: Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Hawazi Daipi said it is impractical to prescribe a comprehensive standard for medical fitness for foreign domestic workers (FDWs).
Mr Hawazi said this is given the different reasons employers have for engaging a foreign domestic worker.
He was responding to a question posed by Non—Constituency MP Lina Chiam on whether the Ministry of Manpower will consider instituting a mandatory psychological test for domestic workers, or other such tests to ensure their suitability for work.
Mr Hawazi said currently, a medical examination framework is in place to safeguard public health interests and the health of foreign domestic workers themselves.
FDWs first have to undergo and pass a mandatory medical examination within fourteen days after arriving in Singapore before they are issued with their work permits.
Mr Hawazi said it is best the medical examination sticks to screening the four types of infectious diseases — tuberculosis, HIV, syphilis and malaria — that are of public health concern.
Mr Hawazi pointed out this also helps to give a broad indication of the worker’s general fitness for work.
Mr Hawazi said: "We know that the foreign domestic workers work very closely with their employers and their family and health is their concern. However, it is best that we limit to only the four infectious diseases.
He added: "Employers can consider working with the agent and the employment agency to require the worker to go for other tests that they think are important. At the same time, they may if they are willing, to send their prospective foreign domestic worker for such screening that they deem fit at their own cost."
Mr Hawazi also said there is no need to review the medical screening process for foreign workers applying for work permits in Singapore.
He was replying to MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC Dr Chia Su Li who raised the question in light of a recent complaint against two clinics who conduct such screenings.
"There have been some concerns about how robust or how relevant some of these, the manner in which these medical examinations are being carried out. My first question is, what is the procedure by which the criteria are formulated and how they are reviewed?" asked Dr Chia.
Mr Hawazi replied: "We generally have open communication with the Ministry of Health to review healthcare threats posed by foreign workers in Singapore. There is no specific time frame, no specific best time, so as and when it is necessary to review, we will consider.
"Based on the result of the test on four infectious diseases, the results have shown that the incidences of failure are very small. There is no reason for us to have an aggressive review of the process or enlarging the number of infectious diseases that we want to consider screening."
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