Daily Express
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TB: Foreign workers main cause

Published on: Monday, December 30, 2013

Labuan: The influx of foreign workers is among the major reasons for the spread of tuberculosis (TB) in the country.

Based on statistics, about 18,000 cases had been reported in 2010 and the figure rose to 20,000 in 2011 with 1,600 fatalities recorded.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Hilmi Yahaya said efforts to monitor the spread of the disease had been enhanced with the foreign workers wishing to work in this country being required to undergo health screening.

He said that out of 30,000 foreign workers who had been brought into the country, 20,000 had failed the health screening carried out by his ministry.

"Foreign workers wishing to work in this country must undergo two health screenings, one in the country of their origin and the other in Malaysia, before they were issued with the working visa here," he told reporters after a one-day working visit to Labuan, Sunday. Dr Hilmi also said that there were foreign workers who had passed the health screening carried out in the country of their origin but failed the test here.

Most of these workers were from Indonesia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and the Philippines.

He said foreign workers who failed the health screening here would be repatriated home. Recently, seven workers at 1Borneo Hypermall tested positive for tuberculosis, prompting its management to take precautionary measures as well as sent a total of 125 of its workers for testing.

The seven workers are believed to have contracted the virus from outside the mall in some squatter colonies.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry is collaborating with the Education Ministry to churn out more specialist doctors in a move to overcome the shortage of such experts.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Hilmi Yahaya said various trainings and scholarships had been offered to young doctors keen on enhancing their expertise into other areas of medical studies.

"We are in the process of attracting more people to become specialist doctors by providing various medical study programmes besides offering them scholarships," he said.

"So far, the feedback on the offer of the scholarships have been positive when there is a rise in the number of applications for the programmes and scholarships each year," he said.

Based on statistics, a total of 1,000 scholarships had been offered for medical programmes at local and foreign universities this year compared with only 800 scholarships last year.