The government must ensure that in line with Universal Health Coverage (UHC), no one is left behind in the rollout of the National Immunisation Programme (NIP). Every segment of the population, including Malaysia’s large undocumented migrant population, must be included in the vaccination drive.
Undocumented migrants, due to their living conditions, have been identified as a high-risk group, Therefore, every effort must be made to ensure they are inoculated in the fastest time possible.
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) is deeply concerned as there are now more transmissible variants in the country. Hundreds of workers can be infected if any single worker is confirmed positive with the Delta variant. If this happens, public hospitals may not be able to cope.
Malaysia has an estimated two to three million undocumented migrants nationwide. The majority are employed in the construction, manufacturing and plantation sectors.
It is a known fact that Covid-19 infections are occurring among migrant workers, due to their living conditions hence the most practical solution would be vaccinations.
The Ministry of Health and the Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) have done well in ramping up the vaccination rate. However, we are still far behind in vaccinating undocumented migrants.
Going forward, MMA urges the government to engage with the foreign embassies concerned and the various human-rights NGOs in reaching out to the undocumented migrant population.
Undocumented migrants must be given the reassurance that they will be helped and not harmed by the authorities.
An amnesty may also need to be considered to get undocumented migrant workers and their employers to cooperate with the authorities.
There is no doubt that enforcement is important in addressing the issue of illegal migration, however, we are in a time of crisis where vaccinating the population is a more immediate priority.
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