The Department of Health and the Council of Labor Affairs (勞委會) combined efforts yesterday to protect all 320,000 foreign workers in Taiwan in case of a national avian flu pandemic.
DOH Minister Hou Sheng-mou (侯勝茂) emphasized yesterday that viruses do not discriminate against race, color, or nationalities. He vowed that in the event of a bird flu outbreak, every foreign worker will receive equal medical protection.
While noting that "Knowledge is power," Hou said we must properly inform foreign workers on how to protect themselves from becoming infected."
"I promise that all inhabitants of Taiwan, regardless of nationality will be entitled to the same treatment," Hou added.
To educate foreign laborers on the danger of bird flu, the DOH published pamphlets outlining preventative measures in six different languages.
CLA minister Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said the pamphlets will be distributed to foreign labor broker agencies, employers, and places where foreign workers gather.
"We urge employers to take an active role in helping their employees. Employers must realize that their lives are bound in with the health of their workers," said Lee.
In addition to the multi-lingual pamphlets, the DOH and CLA have set up hotlines for foreigners to ask about avian flu or any other medical related questions.
To encourage employers to report any sicknesses among their workers, a legal mechanism has been set up to compensate for any monetary loss, Lee said. Lee also noted that the foreign worker will receive free medical treatment as described in their labor health insurance program.
The six dont's
Along with the two ministers, representatives from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines were also present at the news conference to remind all foreign workers to adhere to the 'Six Do nots' guidelines. Don't eat raw food, don't wash your hands in a hurry, don't leave home unnecessarily if you are sick, don't come into direct contact with birds, don't go to high-risk areas and lastly, don't cover up any cases of flu.
For English speakers, the number is 0800-885-885. Thai speakers can call 0800-885-995. Those who speak Indonesian can call 0800-885-958 and Vietnamese speakers can call 0800-178-858.