Bangkok Post Wednesday July 09, 2008
Aliens cost B155m a year
The government is now shouldering about 155 million baht in medical expenses for alien workers per year, permanent secretary for public health Prat Boonyawongvirote said yesterday. Speaking at a three-day seminar on public health services for alien workers which began yesterday, Dr Prat said the money is spent mostly on the treatment of those with diarrhoea, tuberculosis, Aids, haemorrhagic fever and malaria.
The prevalence of those diseases is high along the country’s border areas.
Dr Prat quoted statistics from the Labour Ministry since March that there were a total of 621,437 registered alien workers in Thailand. The ministry estimated there were about 700,000 unregistered alien workers in the country.
Most unregistered workers are from Burma, Laos and Cambodia.
Dr Prat said the Labour Ministry also found that the presence of alien workers generates economic and social impacts as well as safety concerns in provinces they live in.
Sangay Thinley, a representative of the World Health Organisation, said the WHO projected that in 2005 around 191 million workers had migrated transnationally around the world.
Half of them were women, and up to 40 million of them crossed national borders without permission from relevant authorities.
This mass migration has led to social problems among migrant workers ranging from alcohol and drug abuse to violence and the spread of infectious diseases. Diseases which often affect migrant workers are Aids, tuberculosis and diarrhoea, said Dr Thinley.