The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has urged the government to provide free Covid-19 vaccines for migrants and other vulnerable communities, saying the right to health is a basic human right enjoyed by all.
In a statement, it said migrants, refugees, stateless persons, detainees at detention centres and prison inmates risk “falling through the cracks” due to their status, nationality and inability to afford healthcare costs.
“Covid-19 does not discriminate. It affects everyone including these vulnerable communities,” it said.
The first shipments of Covid-19 vaccines are expected to arrive in Malaysia late next month.
Malaysia has ordered 25 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, with which the government hopes to inoculate 40% of the population. It has also inked deals with other pharmaceutical companies including AstraZeneca, Sinovac and the multinational Covax Facility.
Collectively, this will allow 82.8% or 26.5 million people to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The government is looking to reach 70% herd immunity, a goal which involves 23 million Malaysians.
Suhakam said there are an estimated 2.5 million documented migrant workers in the country, with no clear data on the number of undocumented workers.
Noting the establishment of the Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply, also known as JKJAV, it said the committee had early this month reportedly planned to suggest free vaccination for migrant workers in the country.
“In this regard, Suhakam hopes that JKJAV will look into this matter and ensure free Covid-19 vaccination for all, including migrant and undocumented workers, refugees, stateless persons and detainees in detention centres and prison inmates.”