AMMAN — Jordan faces the challenge of meeting the health demands of a vast number of migrants, with foreign-born individuals residing in the country accounting for 46 per cent (around three million) of the total population in 2010, according to the results of a study released on Tuesday.
Conducted by the Ministry of Health and the International Organisation for Migration, the study indicated that the demand for foreign labour in the Kingdom is increasing, leading to the need to address migrants’ healthcare and take them into consideration in existing national health strategies and policies.
Released at a workshop on the health of migrants, the study covered a sample of 2,035 Arab and non-Arab migrants, 30 per cent of them females and 86 per cent aged between 18 and 42 years.
Noting that the prevalence of chronic illnesses was 7 per cent, the study said the relatively low rate “may be due to the fact that the majority of respondents were young”.
All the female immigrants who became pregnant during their stay in Jordan received antenatal care, with 98 per cent receiving this care from physicians, according to the study.
Of the women included in the study sample, 79 were married and 56 per cent said they became pregnant during their stay in the Kingdom.
All respondents noted that Jordan, similar to other countries, faces the challenge of meeting migrants’ health demands and that the movement of migrants across borders can cause health burdens on both the host communities and migrants themselves.
According to health ministry figures included in the study, 804 cases of tuberculosis, 944 cases of hepatitis B and 195 cases of HIV were discovered among 1,209,242 foreigners screened in Jordan between 2007 and 2010.
Under the Kingdom’s health policy, free treatment is provided for all detected cases of infectious diseases if they are curable and discovered after entry into the country.
This imposes an added financial burden on the Kingdom’s limited resources Health Minister Abdul Latif Wreikat said on Tuesday, calling on international agencies to support Jordan in providing migrants with healthcare services.
Speaking at the opening of the two-day workshop, Wreikat noted that the ministry treated more than 500,000 migrant workers in 2011, at a cost of JD500,000.
In addition to providing medication for migrants with infectious diseases, the ministry offers free vaccinations to all children living in Jordan, including foreigners, he added.
Jordan is considered one of the top 10 countries in the world with a high percentage of migrants, Wreikat said, indicating that there are more than 1,200,000 illegal and some 500,000 legal migrant workers in the Kingdom who are required to conduct medical tests annually.
The minister also referred to another challenge currently facing the country’s healthcare system due to the great number of Syrians taking refuge the Kingdom.
He noted that some Syrian refugees suffer from chronic diseases such as cancer and the cost for treating each patient is more than JD20,000.
According to the ministry’s latest figures, some 30,000 Syrians have been treated in the Kingdom’s medical facilities, while 25,000 children under the age of five have been inoculated at a cost of JD800,000.