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Alarming health stats recorded in latest Project HealthWise outreach

06 June 2019

By The SUN
Hundreds queued up for the half-day service, unmindful of the heat

A record number of 444 Filipino migrant workers took part in the Project HealthWise outreach at St Joseph’s Church in Central on Jun 2, nearly overwhelming the volunteers who helped administer the free basic medical examination.

Equally significant was the high number of abnormal findings recorded among those who took part in the project initiated by Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre, and co-ordinated by the online group, Domestic Workers Corner.

Of the 293 who had their blood sugar level checked after the required fasting, 73 or 24.9% registered abnormal results.  Most vulnerable were those aged 40 to 49 years old, as there were 31 of them, or 42.5%, with blood sugar level of 5.7 and above.  
Fewer participants were found to have high blood pressure. Of the 429 who submitted for a check-up, 65, or 15.2%, had elevated blood pressure levels. Again, the incidence was highest in the 40-49 age bracket, where 24 or 37%, were found to have blood pressure readings of 130/100 or 140/100 depending on the age.

The findings underscored the need to have migrant workers undergo regular health screening, the reason Labatt dela Torre pushed for Project HealthWise.
OFW nurses were among those who administered the tests
In an interview early this year, he called on the Hong Kong government to require medical check-ups for foreign domestic workers each time they get signed up for an employment contract.

He cited “scary” initial results from Project HealthWise, which he initiated in November last year, and is being carried out at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office daily except Friday, and through outreach services on designated Sundays each month.

That time, 14% of the 1,441 Filipino migrants initially tested were found to be pre-diabetic, while 7.63 were confirmed diabetics. This, he said was significantly higher than the Philippine prevalence rate among adults of 6.2%.


Those with high blood pressure comprised 11.24% of those tested, 17% were hypertensive, and 2.5 percent had critical blood pressure levels.

With funding for the project coming largely from private donors, Labatt dela Torre has been hard-pressed to continue providing the much-needed tests so Filipino migrants are made aware of the need to keep themselves healthy.
DWC led by founder Rodelia Villar (in white shirt) were
busy with record-keeping and helping with OEC registration
Thus, apart from calling for pre-employment medical tests to be required for all domestic workers, Labatt dela Torre is set to seek help from Hong Kong legislators who have indicated a willingness to extend public health care to migrants.

The feedback from those who queued up for the service at St Joseph’s was predictably positive. Many of the workers said the free health checks were a big help to them, as they need to work hard nearly every day, and the cost could be prohibitive for some of them.
One said, “Malaking advantage ito sa amin. Halimbawa, hindi ko alam na mataas ang BP ko. Ngayon mas aware na ako na dapat mag-ingat.”

Another suggested that the free service be extended more frequently, and was pleased to learn that one can avail of it nearly everyday at POLO.

Everyone was grateful for the free service, and thanked Labatt dela Torre for initiating it.

But the medical tests were just one of the free services rendered during the outreach. Volunteers also helped with the issuance of the overseas employment certificate, signing up with BMOnline and for the ECard.

The team behind Project HealthWise in turn thanked Rev. Joseph Tan Lei Tao, SVD, the parish priest of St Joseph's for providing space for the outreach mission. 

The outreach service will be extended to Filipino communities in several other areas in Kowloon and the New Territories on these dates:

June 7- Calvary Filipino Church, 4/F, 23 Hillwood Rd, TST, Kowloon.
Jun 16 - Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Yuen Long
Jun 30 - St. Vincent Church, Hang Hau
Jul, 7 -  Annunciation Church, Tsuen Wan
Jul 14 - St Thomas Church, Tsing YiJul 21 -St. Francis' Church Tai Wai

– with a report from Rodelia P. Villar

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