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Navigating HPV/CC Amongst Foreign Domestic Workers in Singapore

By

Rohit Sahgal

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3 minutes read

Nestled in the bustling cityscape of Singapore, a silent healthcare concern is gaining attention: the increasing risk of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer (CC) among foreign domestic workers (F-FDWs). In this piece, we explore the pressing need for transnational coordination in addressing this issue. Drawing insights from meticulous research, interviews, and consultations, we underscore the compelling necessity for host and home countries to collaborate in tackling HPV/CC among F-FDWs.

Transcending Boundaries: Crafting Inclusive Health Promotion Campaigns

In our interconnected world, the efficacy of health promotion campaigns hinges on their ability to traverse borders. For maximum impact, these campaigns should be culturally sensitive and linguistically accessible, catering to the diverse backgrounds and preferences of F-FDWs. This demands a synchronised effort between host and home countries in crafting campaigns to ensure that vital information spans geographical divides.

Digital platforms play an increasingly pivotal role in disseminating healthcare information. Given the mobility of F-FDWs between host countries, multilateral coordination is crucial. Collaborative initiatives in content curation, translation, and platform accessibility will ensure a consistent and impactful delivery of messages regarding HPV/CC prevention, detection, and treatment, regardless of F-FDWs’ current location.

Reforming Prevention Regimes

Existing healthcare prerequisites for F-FDWs can serve as barriers to seeking sexual and reproductive healthcare. This necessitates a reconsideration of these requirements in favour of more inclusive policies. Eliminating unnecessary invasive procedures and instituting mandatory HPV vaccination for F-FDWs is a rational step forward.

Transnational synchronisation assumes paramount significance in establishing standardised medical check-up and requirement norms. Home and host countries should collaborate to outline uniform protocols mandating comprehensive health screenings and vaccinations before F-FDWs commence their employment journey.

Combatting Taboos among F-FDWs and Employers

Breaking the taboos surrounding sexual and reproductive health is pivotal in improving the well-being of F-FDWs. A culturally sensitive environment that encourages discussions and offers support is imperative. Such an environment empowers F-FDWs to make informed choices and gain control over their health.

Employers, recognising their significant role in the lives of F-FDWs, should be encouraged to foster an open, supportive ambiance for conversations concerning sexual and reproductive health. Their engagement in these dialogues can be transformative.

Eliminating Financial Dependence on Employers for Medical Treatment

Financial reliance on employers for HPV/CC treatment can perpetuate power imbalances and act as a hurdle to timely and adequate healthcare. It is imperative to explore alternative avenues that provide comprehensive healthcare coverage for F-FDWs, thus guaranteeing equitable access to preventive measures, screenings, and treatment. This move eradicates the financial burden and ushers in a healthier and more just society.

Examining the pressing issue of cervical cancer prevention reveals a worldwide problem in need of immediate action. According to the World Health Organization’s 2020 data, approximately 604,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer that year, resulting in about 342,000 tragic deaths. F-FDWs are among the disproportionately affected groups. They require a comprehensive care system covering awareness, screenings, diagnosis, and treatment. The HPV vaccine emerges as a potent preventive tool, but healthcare access disparities hinder its effectiveness for migrant domestic workers. Global gaps in vaccination distribution highlight healthcare inequities. This necessitates a thorough exploration of mobile populations, especially migrant workers, who face additional hurdles in accessing essential healthcare. For F-FDWs, combating cervical cancer is especially critical given the unique challenges they encounter when seeking healthcare services.

Conclusion

The fight against HPV/CC among F-FDWs in Singapore demands a concerted, transnational approach. In the collective creation of inclusive health campaigns, the establishment of standardised medical prerequisites, and the coordination of digital initiatives, we lay the groundwork for effective strategies. This calls for a global acknowledgment of the necessity for transboundary collaboration to alleviate the HPV/CC burden among F-FDWs.

As Singapore strives to meet the World Health Organization’s 2030 elimination goal for HPV/CC, it not only enhances the health of F-FDWs within its borders but also establishes a benchmark for the world to follow. This is the story of international unity in the face of adversity, leading to a brighter, more equitable future for F-FDWs, regardless of national borders.

For detailed insights, consult the country brief on Singapore on Transnational Coordination in Developing Effective Strategies in Addressing HPV/CC Amongst F-FDWs in Singapore in the Context of the World Health Organisation’s 2030 Elimination Goal.

References

A. Environmental Stewardship
To protect the environment, we organize programmes like mangrove nursery and Reforestation, Coastal and River Clean-Up, Community Based Environmental Solid Waste Management, Environmental IEC Campaign and Eco-Academy

B. Food Security and Sustainable Livelihood
To ensure a sustainable livelihood for the community, eco-tourism include Buhatan River Cruise Visitor Center Buhatan River Mangrove Boardwalk are run by the community. Others include Organic Vegetable and Root crops Farming, Vegetable and Root crops Chips and by-products Processing and establishing a Zero waste store.

C. Empowered Communities
To empower the community, we provide product and Agri-Enterprise Development Training, Immersion and Learnings Exchange Program, Earth Warrior Training and Community Based Social Entrepreneurship Training

Author

Rohit Sahgal

Founder & CEO, The Voices Project Asia, Former Principal Global Health (Asia), Economist Intelligence Unit, Technical Advisor, WHO WPRO

Rohit Sahgal, a distinguished global health strategist with over two decades of experience, has been at the forefront of healthcare initiatives across Southeast Asia, Sub Saharan Africa, India, China, and the Pacific Islands. Holding a Master of Public Administration from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, he’s a recipient of the Dean’s Leadership Award. Rohit’s contributions extend beyond academia, as he serves as a Technical Advisor to WHO WPRO and participates in global expert panels, such as the Concordia Summit at UNGA in New York. Notably, he has fostered innovative healthcare dialogues with the City of Helsinki.

His dynamic collaborations across industry, government, and science have catalyzed healthcare transformation. Leading the LKY School MPA class of ’21, he’s also founded pioneering health advisory services and life-science consultancies, including Sovereign Health Asia, The Voices Project Asia, and DeliveRx, Singapore’s leading global digital asset delivery hub.

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