Health Chief warns of “unhealthy’ foreign labor

PHUKET: Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO) Chief Dr Wanchai Sattayawuthipong has warned that the large number of illegal migrant workers on Phuket is placing the island’s population at greater risk of an outbreak of communicable diseases.

Dr Wanchai’s warning follows an order from the Ministry of Public Health in Bangkok to crack down on communicable diseases by targeting foreign laborers in order to prevent diseases from entering or spreading throughout the country.

However, he said that the PPHO already screens incoming migrant workers as part of the registration process, and that for the past two to three years the PPHO has been tracking and recording details of foreign laborers with communicable diseases.

In that time, he said, the PPHO has found that the number foreign laborers in Phuket with HIV or tuberculosis has increased.

Other communicable ailments commonly suffered by Thai and foreign laborers on the island are diarrhea, gastrointestinal disease, pneumonia and skin diseases, he added.

Malaria among foreign laborers is another main concern of the PPHO, said Dr Wanchai, as it had not been found on the island until the use of foreign laborers increased around 1998.

He said that Phuket currently has about 30,000 legal foreign laborers, but that the total number of migrant workers on the island may be closer to 60,000 or 70,000.

“People should not support illegal foreign laborers working in Phuket. If Phuket people do not allow foreign laborers to come in, that would help to reduce the incidence of communicable diseases in Phuket,” he said.

Phuket News
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