Medical exams for Filipino workers back to GAMCA

KUWAIT: Medical examinations for Filipino workers bound to Kuwait will now revert back to its original process using the regional screening agreed through the GAMCA. Speaking with the Kuwait Times, an official from the Philippines Embassy confirmed the old scheme would be resumed after the suspension of a controversial new contract that limited medical screening to eight clinics only.

“I still don’t have the official report from Manila about this issue, so I cannot categorically and 100 percent explain what happened. But what I know, just this week, Kuwait has agreed to conduct again its medical checks through the GAMCA (Gulf Approved Medical Centers Association),” the official said.

The problem began last summer when the Kuwait Embassy, in cooperation with the Philippines Ministry of Health, issued a new contract accrediting only eight clinics in Manila to process all screenings for workers coming to Kuwait. The new contract drastically raised the costs of the medical screenings and created a backlog of workers waiting to come to Kuwait.

Medical exams through GAMCA accredited clinics cost around P250 (Philippine pesos) but the new eight clinics were charging an exorbitant P8,400 (pesos). As a result, the cost of hiring Filipino domestic helpers was passed on to sponsors in Kuwait, with prices rising from KD 800 to KD 1,300 to hire a helper. Both the domestic recruitment labor offices here and many workers as well as sponsors complained of the higher costs.

Some recruitment agencies and officials claimed that the measure was implemented by some parties intended to monopolize and profit from the process of bringing maids to Kuwait.

The Kuwait Embassy in the Philippines implemented the new regulations in August 2016, awarding the medical screening to a limited number of clinics being run by Winston Q8 Certification Solutions Inc. – a firm registered here and in the Philippines. The new contract created an uproar in Manila and dramatically slowed the process of deployment for workers to Kuwait.

As a result, on 9 March, the government in the Philippines suspended the new contract and the GAMCA clinic process was restored. But the time lag created another slowdown in processing of paperwork for Filipinos with jobs in Kuwait. Some worried that there was a ‘ban’ implemented on sending Filipinos to Kuwait.
There is no ban on sending Filipino workers to Kuwait, perhaps, the problem was the result of the suspension of some clinics,” the embassy official clarified.

GAMCA approved clinics total nearly 30 in the Philippines and with the resumption of medical checks through these clinics, the flow of Filipino workers to Kuwait should resume as normal.

By Ben Garcia

This article was published on 30/03/2017