Lawmakers in the Asean region have vowed to work together to improve health care for women migrant workers.
The parliamentarians adopted a resolution requesting that their governments create a mechanism and allocate funding to the issue during the 38th session of the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) in September.
Mu Sochua, the Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker who recently fled arrest in Cambodia, said the Asean states should have enough room in their budgets “to have sufficient public health funding so that every woman migrant worker can access the health services.”
While Cambodia has increased its national budget to more than $5 billion in 2017, it's spending on public health was only 6 percent, which does not meet citizens’ needs, Sochua told the Hello VOA program.
“When we look at laborers in our country, though nowadays employers may pay for health care, they only cover basic illnesses, not chronic ones,” she said. “Even during pregnancy, they [workers] are not covered.”
Cambodia has an estimated 700,000 women working in the region, according to Sochua.
Dam Srey Phean, an undocumented laborer in Thailand, said she has difficulties accessing health care and had to pay high prices at private clinics when she fell ill.
“I pay a lot of money from my savings for health services,” she said. “This is because I do not have an employer who covers me. I came to Thailand illegally.”
Others, such as Khim Srey Mom, have been more fortunate. “When I have a health problem, I have a doctor to turn to,” she said. “Some months I visit the doctor twice or three times.”
Sochua said that if Cambodia creates a healthcare mechanism like the one the Asean parliamentarians proposed, women like Srey Phean and Srey Mom would receive the same treatment regardless of their employer.