Non-citizens’ health is public health

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Photograph: The roads travelled for work - Women Migrant Workers in Singapore and Malaysia by UN Women Gallery/Flickr

Non-citizens in Malaysia are vulnerable to Covid-19 and other illnesses due to their high-density living quarters and working areas and a lack of access to information and healthcare.

Maintaining good health in these communities is important to protect the health of the Rakyat. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that the health of non-citizens is appropriately looked after.

The Malaysian Health Coalition, Beyond Borders Malaysia, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organisations (Mapim) and Tenaganita urge the government to introduce the following measures to protect the health of all residents in Malaysia:

Provide education and access to healthcare

All stakeholders must work to improve the awareness and understanding of Covid-19 among migrant and refugee communities. Education and prevention information must be in languages and media that they can access easily and understand.

Migrant and refugee communities must also feel secure enough to seek medical assistance should they require it. In this, we laud the Ministry of Health’s approach of targeted testing for migrant populations.

Provide a safe workplace

As the country begins a phased restart of businesses and industry, sectors that are reliant on migrant workers must establish clear guidelines and standard operating procedures for maintaining the health of its employees.

These guidelines and procedures must be developed together with the Ministry of Health.

Enforcement must be built into the guidelines, together with penalties for non-compliance.

As evidence surrounding the use of face masks emerges, the Malaysian government and businesses must also respond appropriately.

Moratorium on evictions

The government should introduce a moratorium on all evictions for all residents in Malaysia. This will not only support Malaysians during this crisis, but also help refugee and migrant communities that are unable to pay rent.

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The existing moratorium on loans and mortgages in the country will cushion any impact on landlords. Housing is a human right that should be protected to allow all people to abide by the movement control order and limit the spread of the virus.

Covid-19 affects everyone no matter their place of birth or citizenship. For the disease to fully be eradicated in the country, we must care for everyone’s health.

Berkhidmat untuk negara.

29 April 2020

Signatories:

  • Malaysian Health Coalition (45 member societies and 19 individuals – full signature list on myhealthcoalition.org)
  • Beyond Borders Malaysia (www.beyondbordersmalaysia.org)
  • Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organisations (Mapim) (www.mapim.org)
  • Tenaganita (www.tenaganita.net)
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