HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Outsourcing agencies termed the Gulf Cooperation Council Approved Medical Centres’ Association (GAMCA) an ‘illegal network’, backing the Nepal Health Professional Federation in its battle against GAMCA.
“GAMCA is an illegal network of 12 medical centres,” said president of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies Som Lal Bataju during the eighth anniversary of the federation.
“The association has not followed the agency registration laws and is promoting syndicate system in the country,” he said. “Though the association has been working as an agency of the Gulf Cooperation Council, it has not taken permission from the government according to Nepal Agency Act, 1958.”
He also accused GAMCA for promoting syndicate in medical check up procedure. “It increased the medical service fee to Rs 4,000 last month ignoring the government’s fee structure. The fee determined by the government for a medical check up of a migrant worker is Rs 2,940 for a male and Rs 3,100 for a female as women have to pay more due to the additional charge for pregnancy test.”
Another outsourcer Bal Bahadur Tamang echoed Bataju. “Outsourcers are ready to support the federation’s movement to end GAMCA’s monopoly,” he said, adding that due to the monopoly, the quality of service was deteriorating. “We cannot get updated medical reports on time through its online service too,” he accused.
However, the Ministry of Health and Population remained silent on the issue. “I don’t know about the issue,” secretary at the ministry Dr Praveen Mishra said, adding that he will go through it first and take necessary steps. He assured of stringent actions if the ministry find problems in the service of quality offered. “The registration of an association is not an issue concerning the ministry,” he added.
President of the federation Khadak Bahadur Shrestha explained about their struggle to establish the rights of all the medical centres registered under the Foreign Employment Act 2007. There are about 179 medical centres registered for the purpose. Member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council –– Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman –– have only been accepting medical reports prepared by GAMCA. The other two countries –– Qatar and the UAE –– have not yet started accepting only GAMCA medical reports to hire migrant workers.
Gulf countries are major job markets for Nepali migrant workers. About 70 per cent of the 3.5 million migrant workers are in the region and about 700 Nepalis join jobs in GCC countries daily. Nepali medical centres have been losing their jobs as GCC countries have gradually started asking for GAMCA prescribed medical reports since 2009.