Written Answer by Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng to PQ on MDWs diagnosed with tuberculosis
NOTICE PAPER NO. 554 OF 2021 FOR THE SITTING ON 2 AUGUST 2021
QUESTION NO. 936 FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
MP: Dr Tan Wu Meng
To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) for the past three years, what is the number and proportion of foreign domestic workers (FDWs) who are diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) following commencement of employment in Singapore; (b) how many of these FDWs are medically assessed to be infectious and have insurance coverage for TB treatment; and (c) what can be done to help employers whose FDWs are diagnosed with TB.
- Employers are responsible for their Migrant Domestic Workers’ (MDW) medical expenses. To support employers in meeting their obligations, employers are required to purchase mandatory medical insurance of at least $15,000 coverage for inpatient care and surgery. This amount has been sufficient in covering about 95% of MDWs’ inpatient or day surgery bills. MOM is reviewing the medical insurance coverage for Work Permit and S Pass holders to strengthen the protection for MDWs and their employers while keeping costs affordable.
- To Dr Tan’s specific question about tuberculosis (TB), all MDWs are required to be screened for active TB, including having a chest X-ray, within two weeks of arrival in Singapore. This is done prior to the start of employment, and another time upon two years of stay in Singapore. From 2018 to 2020, about 300 MDWs (0.1% of MDW population) per year were diagnosed with active TB after commencing employment in Singapore, i.e. after their Work Permits were issued. Anyone diagnosed with active TB will be treated immediately to reduce the risk of further transmission.
- The large majority of TB cases are managed via outpatient treatment. In rare cases where the disease leads to complications, the MDW may need to be hospitalised for further treatment. Like for Singaporeans, the full cost of hospitalisation for MDWs referred under MOH’s National TB Programme is paid for. For outpatient treatment under the National TB programme, while the medication under Directly Observed Treatment is free, MDWs would nonetheless incur consultation and other testing costs. Employers who face difficulties paying for their MDWs’ medical bills may approach the medical social workers at the public health institutions for assistance.