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New medical tests from today

By Asma Ali Zain (Our staff reporter) / 1 July 2008

DUBAI — Effective today, expatriates will have to undergo a new set of medical fitness screening tests before acquiring their residency or employment visas.

According to the new Government Federal Law No 7/2008, people renewing/applying for a residence or employment visa will have to undergo a number of medical fitness screenings for diseases including HIV, Hepatitis B & C, Tuberculosis and Syphilis. Two more tests —Hepatitis C and Syphilis — have been added to the existing three for which expatriates were already being screened before being granted a residency or employment visa.

Though the X-ray and blood tests were already being conducted, two more screening methods have also been added that include the urine and stool tests. Vaccination for Hepatitis B has also been made compulsory.

However, if a person is found unfit and suffering from any of these diseases, he/she is likely to be deported. The decision applies to the Ministry of Health, and the health authorities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Maitha Al Bustani, Head of the Medical Fitness Centre at the Department of Health and Medical Services (Dohms), said that the new rules come into effect starting July 1. "According to the decision taken by the Minister of Health Humaid Al Quttami, the rules are being implemented on a trial basis for three months, and may be subject to change in the coming months," she explained.

A group of professionals who are especially under the scanner include food handlers, nannies, housemaids, educators/teachers, and people who work in restaurants and heath fields due to the sensitivity of their profession.

"If housemaids are found to be disease-carriers, it's the decision of the sponsor either to send them back or get them treated," she added.

A new fee structure for the screenings is also in place. All residents will either be required to hold a health card that will cost Dh300 -a fee that remains unchanged- or a valid health insurance policy.

Tests for HIV, TB, and Hepatitis B & C will be carried out for Dh250, while Dh50 each will be charged for stool and urine tests, and only for the first dose of the Hepatitis vaccine. The other two required doses will be administered free of charge over a period of six months.

"If the resident does not hold a health card and has a valid health insurance policy, Dohms will charge Dh200 to attest the insurance before the screenings are done," she explained.

 
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