National

House to focus on migrant
workers bill

The House of Representatives has set a goal to pass bills affecting migrant workers and the medical profession and might put off the rest of the drafted laws on their table, a legislator says.

Legislator Irgan Chairul Mahfiz of House’s Commission IX overseeing health and manpower issue said his commission would focus on two drafts, the revision of the Law on the Placement and Protection of Migrant Workers and the Medical Profession Law draft.

“The medical profession draft discusses various professions in the medical industry, such as lab staffers and psychologists, and includes nurses too, but only in general. It will act as the major law. After this law is finished, we will start discussing the nurse draft,” he said.

However, the draft of the Medical Profession law had yet to reach the House. In fact, Irgan said the academic drafts were not yet completed. He added that if the government did not submit them within the next few months, the House would take over the work.

“There are many people waiting for this law. If we wait for the government to finish it, it may take a long time. Some of the final points to be put into the umbrella law are probably regarding the accreditation, competence and salary standards,” he said.

Indonesia has yet to have a law on nursing. Legislators have been stalling discussions although the nurse draft reached the House in 2005 and was ranked eighth in the 2010 National Legislation Program.

The lack of regulation on nurses and medical workers has resulted in cases where they have been pitted against each other by existing laws.

One of the cases involved Misran, a medical worker from Kutai Kertanegara, East Kalimantan, who received a three-month prison sentence after police found unlicensed prescription drugs in his house last year.

The Health Law stipulates that people who dispense or prescribe drugs without state approval can face fines of Rp 100 million (US$11,000).

The plaintiffs argued that in many remote areas in the country where doctors are scarce, nurses and other medical workers, locally known as mantri, sometimes were required to act quickly to save lives.

Last December, the nurses held a rally in front of the parliament building to demand the endorsement of the law. They said nurses had their own job description and responsibility and therefore, a law on nurses was needed to support their work.

Meanwhile, on the revision of the migrant workers law, Irgan said that the commission would add more articles regarding their protection, with emphasis on signing the memorandum of understanding with countries where most Indonesian migrant workers worked.

“We hope that the new law will be able to place the migrant workers as comfortably as possible. We will also incorporate related stakeholders, such as the embassies and the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, to create a stronger protection for migrant workers,” he said.

Irgan said the commission would try to complete discussions within two meeting periods, over a span of about six months.

Indonesia plans to send 600,000 workers overseas in 2011. Of the 6 million Indonesian workers already abroad, thousands have reportedly been tortured, killed, sexually abused or denied their salaries by their employers, usually in Malaysia and the Middle East.

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