KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 22, 2014): An overwhelming majority of the 1.9 million workers registered with the Social Security Organisation (Socso) appear uninterested in using the organisation's free health screening facility. "This is appalling. It is an opportunity given to workers to be screened for free but only a fraction, or 326,690, took up the offer," Socso deputy chief executive (operations) Datuk Dr Mohammed Azman Aziz Mohammed told theSun. Azman said 65% of those who used the voucher for the health screening did so for the first time in their life – with startling results: 222 women who had a mammogram for the first time found suspicious-looking lumps, 37.9% were overweight, 18% obese, 16.1% diabetic, 39.9% had high blood pressure and 58.9% high cholesterol. "If these people had not gone for the health screening, they would not have known that they were victims of these non-communicable diseases (NCDs)," he said, adding that the vouchers were given to workers aged above 40. Socso allocated RM200 million to finance the one-off health screening of workers at 3,068 clinics nationwide under their Health Screening Programme (HSP) for early detection of NCDs. "The validity of the voucher was until Dec 31 last year but with the very poor take-up rate, we have decided to extend the period to June this year," said Azman, adding that workers must be serious in using the free voucher especially with the number of NCDs going up alarmingly in the working population due to unhealthy lifestyle habits. Last year, Socso also took the initiative to go to 112 companies under a joint programme with them to do health screening for the workers. The objective of the HSP is to promote health awareness of NCDs, ensure early detection of NCDs, prevent disability and death due to NCDs, prevent the loss of income due to NCDs and improve human capital resource and productivity through a vibrant business environment besides stimulating nation's economy. This year another 257,000 workers who attained the age of 40 years were issued the vouchers. "Our biggest challenge is to get the workers to participate in the HSP and I strongly urge all those who have not done the health screening to do so immediately as probably it could either save your life or your quality of life," said Azman. He also urged employers to play a proactive role by getting employees who received the vouchers to go for the health screening as they too would benefit in the long run.