THE Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) in Northern Mindanao is intensifying its partnership with different hospitals in all provinces in the region for its program for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Leonor C. Mabagal, Owwa-Northern Mindanao regional director, said they intend to partner with at least one hospital in every province of the region that would accommodate OFWs who got sick while working abroad and need close medical attention in the Philippines.

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Mabagal said they are now fast-tracking negotiations with hospitals in Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon and Camiguin to become Owwa's partners.

She said the program is especially designed for OFWs who got sick abroad but have to return back to the country without finishing their contracts.

Under the program, OFWs who got sick while working abroad and need further treatment in the Philippines may avail of the services at Owwa's partner hospitals for free.

Earlier, Owwa had already inked partnership with Xavier Maria Reyna Hospital in Cagayan de Oro for the program.

Mabagal said the partnership with medical institutions is necessary as it would greatly help OFWs solve their health concerns.

In Misamis Oriental, at least seven hospitals located in different towns in the province have already partnered with Owwa for its health care services.

Mabagal said OFWs abroad are covered with health insurances but some of them are not attended by their employers.

"Through this program, the OFWs can go home for treatment for free through our partner medical institutions," she said.

Under the partnership, OFWs can avail of up to P100,000 if confined at the hospital due to accident, are suffering from dreaded diseases (acquired or not), transmitted diseases or catastrophic, and are under intensive care.

Mabagal said even OFWs who are found mentally-ill due to depression can also avail of the services.

"If they're attended by their employers, well and good. But some of them, especially those who are in the Middle East, are neglected of their rights to health care services. Supposed they're given treatment, but these were not enough," she said.

Of the several benefits that an OFW enjoys while working abroad, only $25 or about P1,100 on every working contract covers it all.

In order to avail of the program, Mabagal said OFWs must renew their registration with Owwa.

"Once the OFWs renew their registration, their hospital bills, including medicines here in the Philippines, are subsidized by the government," she said. (Loui S. Maliza)