Filipino domestic workers assert that health is a basic human right

New York City—This Sunday, June 7, at the Philippine Independence Day Celebration and street fair, Filipino domestic workers will assert that health is a basic human right, and in collaboration with medical professionals, provide free health services to the Filipino community.

For the fourth consecutive year, as part of DAMAYAN Migrant Workers Association’s Lunas (“healing”) health program, funded by New York Women’s Foundation, Sunday’s health fair will bring together volunteer medical professionals and connect them with those in the community without access to medical care.

For Filipino domestic workers, most of whom are undocumented, health and illness are a major concern. Domestic workers are part of an unrecognized industry that is excluded from many federal and state labor laws that would protect workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Act excludes domestic work from coverage. And a recent DAMAYAN survey of 208 Filipino domestic workers found that 88 percent do not receive health insurance and 67 percent do not receive paid sick days. Domestic workers often work right through illnesses, for fear of losing their jobs, and are regularly exposed to toxic household cleaning chemicals and highly stressful working conditions.

As part of its campaign work to protect the rights of domestic workers and win fair labor standards, DAMAYAN supports the statewide call for a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights would win key labor standards for domestic workers, such as paid vacation, sick leave and notice of termination. A final grassroots push to pass the Bill of Rights before the end of this legislative session will culminate in a series of actions following Sunday’s health fair.

Health services during this Sunday’s health fair include blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose screenings, body mass index, oral cancer (dental) screenings, free doctor consultations and information on women’s health and health access for the uninsured.

The health fair will be conducted in collaboration with The University of the Philippines Medical Society in America (UPMASA), Philippine Nurses Association of New York, NYU Filipino Students Dental Association and Ugnayan ng mga Anak ng Bayan. For more information, or to volunteer, please contact DAMAYAN at 212-564-6057 or contact @ damayanmigrants.org.