Nepal | March 31, 2020

EDITORIAL: Health cover

The Himalayan Times

The initiative taken by the government and IB will greatly address the concerns of all migrant workers employed in harsh climatic and hazardous conditions

From now onward, the migrant workers can get health insurance coverage for 15 types of critical illnesses as the Insurance Board has fixed the insurance premium at Rs 400 for the same on top of the premium for life insurance. The insurance policy will come into force from today. The IB has already instructed the insurance companies to provide coverage for critical illnesses to migrant workers in their term “life insurance”. This has been made mandatory for all going overseas for employment. The 15 types of critical illnesses referred to by the government include: cancer, kidney failure, primary pulmonary arterial hypertension, multiple sclerosis, major organ transplant, coronary artery bypass grafts, aorta graft surgery, heart valve surgery, stroke, myocardial infraction (first heart attack), comma, total blindness, paralysis, benign brain tumour and mental illness caused due to accidents. Besides providing health insurance for these critical illnesses the government has also increased the health insurance amount to Rs. two million from the previous Rs. 1.5 million. The Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB), the insurance sector regulator for foreign employment, and the Ministry of Labour and Employment had jointly worked to define critical illnesses.

The government had announced it some three weeks ago saying that the migrant workers would get insurance coverage for critical illnesses considering the complaints received from the concerned workers and their families. As per the IB policy, the insured individual will get compensation of Rs. 500,000 if s/he suffers from any of the illnesses as defined; the beneficiary will be entitled to Rs. one million as life insurance, Rs. 200,000 for loss of income, Rs. 100,000 for funeral rites, Rs. 100,000 for the cost of bringing the body from the labour destination. Life insurance premium varies from one to another age group as defined by IB. In addition, IB has also made life insurance mandatory to provide coverage for one additional year from the date of the contract period of migrant workers.

The initiative taken by the government and IB should be welcomed as the policy will greatly address the concerns of all migrant workers employed in harsh climatic and hazardous conditions of the host countries. Nepal is one of the countries that send a large number of workers mostly to the Middle East, Malaysia and South Korea. The contribution of the migrant workers to the GDP stands at around 25 per cent. It means the Nepali migrant workers send home more than Rs. 600 billion every year. It is the remittance that keeps the country’s economy afloat and the foreign reserves stable and supports imports. But the government had neglected the plight of the migrant workers for long despite their huge contribution to the national economy. Apart from this, the Ministry of Labour and Employment should also make good use of diplomatic missions with the host countries for safeguarding the basic human rights and professional interests of the Nepali workers. However, the government has failed to better utilize the remittances in the nation building process.

Children’s lot

As children are the most vulnerable in society all aspects of children’s rights should be promoted. Now with the formulation of Child-friendly Local Governance Roll-out Plan (2017-2020) in place, it is expected that the lot of children in this country would be enhanced. The roll-out plan, though late in the making, has raised hopes that the there would be increasing participation in education of the children and teenagers, improvement in the indicators in the health sector, and the guarantee of the rights of children with the needed coordination among the government agencies. At least 40 per cent of budget allocated to children would be used for the construction and management of child-friendly infrastructure.

Among the benefits of this roll-out plan would be the adoption of the child-friendly governance in at least 50 per cent of local level agencies within a period of four years. The plan seeks to extend child- friendly services to all the provinces and local level. Violence against children in all its forms would be dealt with. This would be done by raising awareness about the maltreatment of children. Child marriages would also not be permitted and child labour would be discouraged. Moreover, there would be special programmes for children who are disabled.

A version of this article appears in print on February 13, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.

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