MACAU DAILY TIMES 澳門每日時報 » Further Health Education Needed for Filipino Domestic Workers: Survey

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A A recent survey found that just over 60% of Filipino domestic workers in Macau need more education on how to stay healthy, otherwise known as “health literacy”.

Led by Kiang Wu Nursing College Macau, and in collaboration with Caritas Macau and several faith-based organizations, the survey collected 379 valid responses to the questionnaire between November 2020 and March 2021. The questionnaire was distributed online in Tagalog.

Respondents’ health literacy was scored after giving self-reported responses to questions posed in the questionnaire.

On its website, the United States Health Resources and Services Administration defines health literacy as “the extent to which individuals have the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information necessary to take appropriate health decisions”.

According to the government agency, low health literacy is more prevalent among the elderly, minority populations, those with low socioeconomic status, and the medically underserved.

Of the respondents, 97% are women. About half of the respondents have at least a university degree. They have resided in Macau for an average of 6.1 years. Their average age was 43.7 years.

The survey calculated the average health literacy score of respondents at 38.4. A score below 33 implies limited health literacy. The college pointed out that Macao has the lowest level of health literacy of seven Asian jurisdictions, namely Macao, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia and Taiwan.

Low health literacy implies that respondents have less access to, as well as less understanding, poorer judgment, and less use of local health information. Respondents who rated their own knowledge of English as worse received lower scores in health literacy. The survey also revealed that younger respondents generally have more limited knowledge about how to lead a healthy life.

The main concerns of respondents were emotional stress, sleep problems and chronic pain, complaints mentioned between 60% and 90% of the responses.

Respondents primarily rely on official Philippine channels for health-related information, ahead of official Macau channels and social media platforms. It can be concluded that the health authorities in Macau could do more to educate Filipinos in Macau about health.

Public health physician Leong Iek Hou of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has previously pointed out that local authorities rely heavily on English media to disseminate health knowledge and information to non-Chinese speaking communities.

The investigative team pointed out that since a large number of Filipino workers work in homes across the city, their health literacy is essential for the families they serve.

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