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FMM claims Fomema's new foreign workers' medical check-up structure will cost manufacturers RM124 mil a year

FMM In The News: THE EDGE, KUALA LUMPUR, January 22, 2024 - The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) has claimed that Fomema Sdn Bhd's increased frequency and rates for medical examinations of foreign workers will cost manufacturers about RM124.4 million per year.

This is based on the 14% to 15% increase in fees as well as the approximately 600,000 foreign workers present in the country, said the federation in a statement on Monday.

FMM also questioned why Fomema needed to expand its range of tests, which contributed to the higher costs, the frequency of the check-ups to every year, and the role of Fomema in the foreign worker management system.

"FMM has called on the government  to implement a single end-to-end online system which will address the efficiency and weaknesses in the foreign worker management system, including eliminating unnecessary third-party service providers along the process. 

"With the advent of technology and digitalisation, the clinics accredited to carry out the foreign worker medical examination according to the specifications set out by the Ministry of Health can directly input the medical examination results into the system for the next stage of approvals in the system," it said.

FMM also said that Fomema has failed to consult stakeholders before raising the rates and frequency of medical examinations for foreign workers on Dec 16, 2023.

Fomema, which operates a comprehensive health screening system for foreign workers on behalf of the Health Ministry, should have followed the basic elements of the National Policy on Good Regulatory Practice (NPGRP), which includes a regulatory impact assessment on the increased costs associated with the revamped medical checkup structure, said the federation in a statement on Monday.

"A proper communication plan to stakeholders has been disregarded as the announcement on the changes was only made one day prior to the coming into force of the higher charges and frequency of medical examination and only published on Fomema’s website and social media accounts without any prior public consultation or communication with relevant stakeholders. 

"This has added to the further disappointment and frustration of the business fraternity who were caught unawares of the changes," it said.

The federation also urged the government to suspend the new medical examination structure, immediately engage with stakeholders, and review the relevant of having a third-party service provider.

Previously, Fomema had only required that foreign workers undergo an annual health checkup every year for three years, with a subsequent examination seven years later. Effective Dec 16, 2023, foreign workers will need to go for medical checkups annually. 

Meanwhile, examination fees for male workers have been raised to RM207 from RM190 prior, and female workers' fees have been increased to RM217 from RM207 earlier. 

The tests now include filariasis (roundworm), Hepatitis C, and use of methamphetamine, in addition to the original scope of HIV, Hepatitis B, syphilis, and pregnancy, as well as use of opiates and cannabis.

Each refund request will be charged RM27.

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