Lukewarm Response To Free Socso Health Screenings
Many, upon turning 40, feel as if they have achieved most of what they have hoped for in life – a stable career, good home, happy family and better health.
However, they forget that such joys in life could easily be destroyed once illness strikes, particularly if it were silent, non-communicable diseases.
Such diseases, also known as lifestyle diseases, have become a major health concern in the country. Malaysians of older age have routinely become diagnosed with hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity.
Recognising the gravity of the situation, the Social Security Organisation (Socso) has taken a proactive preventive measure by offering a free health checkup for the country’s workers.
Sadly, the Health Screening Programme that was started in January 2013 received lukewarm response. It was then reintroduced through the Socso Workers’ Health Promotion Seminar 2014, recently.
According to the Socso Board Chairman Datuk Abu Huraira Abu Yazid, the organisation has allocated some RM200 million to accommodate the healthcare costs for 1.9 million workers in Malaysia in 2013. The amount increases annually for deserving workers.
The free health screening was introduced as a preventive measure against loss of ability for the insured person due to non communicable diseases especially since their numbers have been increasing every year.
“It is for the detection of non-communicable diseases among workers. Socso believes programmes such as this are effective in improving the health of the country’s workers.
“This is because such diseases can lead to disabilities, affect work, reduce income and affect the finances”, he said.
According to Abu Huraira, it was also in line with the needs of a country heading towards the status of a developed nation.
Workers today are exposed to many newer threats to their health.
Abu Huraira said the results of over 320,000 health screenings conducted last year revealed worrying results.
“Nearly 66 per cent of the workers had never had a health checkup prior to the screening. The risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity and diseases from smoking were high among them”, he said.
Abu Huraira said 62 per cent of the workers who went for the free health screening were obese, 41 per cent had hypertension, 16 were diabetic and 61 percent had high cholesterol.
The programme also enabled 103,000 women to go for a pap smear, with 345 of them revealing abnormal results.
Over 108,000 women who went for a mammogramme during the screening and 707 of them fell under the category of “suspicious” (for malignancy) while 124 were “highly suspicious of malignancy”.
TYPES OF SCREENING
The free health screening includes a physical checkup, a blood test and doctor’s counsel.
Pap smears and mammogrammes are offered for female workers.
Under the programme, workers can go for the free checkup at 3,185 private clinics nationwide.
Socso Chief Executive Datuk K. Selvarajah hoped the employers would encourage and allow their workers time off to go for the health checkup.
The vouchers for the screening were given to the employers to be passed on to their workers.
“Socso also hopes that more workers will come for the health screening, this time around. Employers, clinics and service providers must work together to spread this information to workers nationwide”, he said.
In 2014, Socso provided 270,000 health screening vouchers and 103,000 mammogramme screening vouchers for employers to distribute to their workers who were over 40.
Socso has announced that the expiry date for the 2013 vouchers have been extended to Dec 31 this year.
Workers and employers who have contributed to Socso and would like to get further information on the health screening can contact the hotline 03-42645089, 03-4252 1258/4475/4476 or by e-mailing queries to firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting sehat.perkeso.gov.my.