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Prime Minister Hun Sen shares a hug with members of the garment industry yesterday in Phnom Penh. Facebook

Government rolls out health checkups for workers

The Ministry of Health has started a short-term campaign to offer free medical checkups to garment factory workers across four provinces, a move that was lauded yesterday by Prime Minister Hun Sen as he continued his ongoing charm offensive at local garment factories.

Svay Rieng provincial authorities on Tuesday announced the launch of a 40-day campaign to provide health checkups for factory workers at individual factories, covering around 80,000 workers, according to Dr Keo Rotha, director for the provincial Health Department.

Rotha clarified that the checkups were separate from the health care privileges workers are entitled to under the National Social Security Fund.

“The services we will provide include glucose tests, blood pressure tests, X-rays, and if a worker faints, we will have the blood test in order to diagnose the problem,” he said.

Rotha added that Kandal and Kampong Speu provinces had started similar campaigns, with Prak Vonn, director of the Health Department of Kampong Chhnang, saying they would take 24 days to look at around 38,000 workers in the province.

Multiple Ministry of Health spokespeople could not be reached yesterday to answer if the campaigns would be continued beyond the stated durations. “I don’t know if we will continue it again or not. It depends on the ministry. If they tell us to continue, we’ll do it,”’ Vonn said.

The premier was in Svay Rieng’s Manhattan Special Economic Zone yesterday, again making familiar pre-election promises to workers, and vowing to continue to visit them for the next 10 years – which is how long he has said he will remain at the helm of the country.

Observers have characterised the factory tours as an attempt to court the thousands-strong garment worker voter base – a point that was confirmed by Hun Sen himself yesterday.

“I hope that workers and their parents, who have obtained peace created by the liberation and conducted by me and other leaders . . . will continue to vote for me so that I can continue these historical actions,” he said yesterday.

Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, said yesterday that the health checkups were welcomed but were not a long-term solution. “Instead of just doing that, [the ministry] should improve their service and quality of treatment for workers at every hospital, referral hospital or clinic.”

In a separate notification, the Ministry of Labour instructed garment factory workers to allow female employees beyond the first trimester of their pregnancy to leave work 15 minutes earlier than other workers.

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