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32 Hong Kong OFWs suffer stroke in 2019; stress cited as cause

/ 02:30 PM October 17, 2019

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong. Image: INQUIRER.net file photo

Heart disease is the leading illness for the hospitalization of Hong Kong overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the past nine months. Among those with a heart ailment, majority suffered from a stroke.

Stress and overall poor diet are eyed as the leading causes of heart diseases and other ailments of OFWs in Hong Kong, the Philippines’ welfare attaché Marivic C. Clarin said in a Hong Kong News report on Monday, Oct. 14.

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Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) officers visited 188 overseas Filipino workers in hospitals from January to September. Forty-two of these patients — or more than 20 percent — had cardiovascular diseases. Cancer-related cases followed close behind with 31 patients, pulmonary-related had 21, while the number of patients suffering from mental health disorders was 12.

In that same statistic, 32 of those who were hospitalized with heart ailments had a stroke. Clarin cited stress as one of its leading causes.

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“It’s because of [the] stress sa (from) work and family and poor diet, which can be associated with lack of food or unhealthy food provided to workers,” Clarin said in an interview.

The welfare officer also reiterated the OFWs’ poor working conditions. “Kasi mula umaga pagkagising, yung iba diretso hanggang hating gabi. [Merong] stressed sa family sa Pilipinas or stressed dito sa employer,” she said.

([It’s] because from the moment they wake up in the morning, others [work] nonstop up until midnight. [They are] stressed with their families in the Philippines or stressed here with their employer.)

From 2014 to 2017, stroke had been the top illness of OFWs repatriated from Hong Kong, based on the data cited by the media outlet from the Overseas Worker Welfare Administration (OWWA).

“There has to be a way out of this,” former labor attaché Jalilo Dela Torre said last March, as quoted in the report.

“Either through mandatory health checks that even the Indonesian Consulate General has seen fit to require or stronger enforcement and statutory working conditions of 350,000 foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong,” Dela Torre had said.

He stressed that the workers’ poor health should not be treated as an isolated case but rather should be contextualized within the OFWs’ stressful working conditions.

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Migrant groups have long been calling for regulated work hours for foreign domestic workers, according to the report. “Even Hong Kong people, we are also asking for standard working hours,” legislative council member Kenneth Leung said in a forum at the Philippine Consulate General.

Leung explained further that “the government said ‘No, we don’t want to legislate for standard working hours. You have to agree with your employer.’” Cha Lino/NVG

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TAGS: Domestic Helpers, heart disease, Hong Kong, OFW, stress, stroke
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