Public Health Secretary Joseph Kevin Villagomez will meet with the Department of Labor and Immigration and the Philippine Consulate to discuss plans of tapping four more reliable clinics that will conduct health screening to nonresident workers who will be sent to the CNMI.
With the implementation of Public Law 11-97, Villagomez said there is a need to begin the search for additional clinics to ensure the reliability of health clearances submitted to DOLI.
Public Law 11-97 has set the standards for acceptance of health clearances from foreign countries for the purpose of entering the Commonwealth and obtaining work permits.
“Until now, we don’t have any faith in the system, thus, we have to conduct another health screening here when the worker arrives,” said Villagomez. He noted that there have been instances when a worker who submitted an excellent health record to his employer from a certified a clinic in Manila later on tested positive for tuberculosis.
Although St. Luke’s Hospital is acceptable to the CNMI since the Commonwealth Health Center sends some of its patients there fore medical treatment, Villagomez acknowledged that it may not be accessible to other job applicants coming from Philippines provinces.
The health chief said when the system improves, resident workers will only be screened in their second year of stay in the CNMI to lessen the cost on businesses.
Under the law, the labor secretary is required to establish an approved list of sources of the required clearances for nonresident workers and their family members.
The list include all persons, agencies and entities in foreign countries approved by the State Department, Immigration and Naturalization Service, or the Department of Justice for comparable services.
Several agencies of the federal government, including the State Department and INS, maintain lists of reputable and reliable agencies and entities in foreign countries that are considered acceptable sources of health screening certificates and criminal background checks.
Foreign workers are required to undergo annual health screening as required by the CNMI government such as chest x-ray, syphilis and HIV tests, among others.