Don't bring restricted medicines to UAE, Indian workers told

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Dont bring restricted medicines to UAE, Indian workers told
Indian Ambassador to the UAE, Navdeep Singh Suri.

Dubai - Social workers and volunteers stressed that workers should cross-check the list of medicines that have restricted entry into the UAE.

by Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Thu 21 Dec 2017, 3:14 PM

Indian missions in the UAE have urged blue-collared workers to completely refrain from bringing medicines that are restricted in the UAE. Often Indian workers are detained for possession of illegal drugs, especially sleeping pills or painkillers, which don't have a prescription that has been attested by the UAE Embassy in India.

Speaking to a gathering of 400 workers, Indian Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri urged them to take care of their health, keep their personal documents safe and register themselves on the e-migrate system, which would safeguard them from fraudulent visa agents.

He was speaking at the Petron Workers Accommodation in Dubai Investment Park on Tuesday. The event was organised by Indian Workers Resource Centre (IWRC) and was also attended by officials from the Indian Consulate and social workers.

"The Indian missions have the best interests of all Indian nationals in the UAE, we are here in the service of all Indians," the ambassador said. Suri also stressed that the Indian passport is a very valuable document, and they must keep it close at all times. Indian diplomatic missions visit various workers camps in the UAE every 10-15 days, according to Suri, where issues of labourers are addressed.

He also urged them to save the IWRC hotline number 800INDIA (80046342) on their phones and not avail visa services from unauthorised agents.

Restricted medicines

Social workers and IWRC volunteers stressed that the workers should cross-check the list of medicines that have restricted entry into the UAE on the Indian Consulate and Embassy websites.

Anish Choudhary, manager of IWRC, said: "Workers need to be educated about the risks of bringing medicines into the UAE. Often, labourers accept sealed boxes and packages from unscrupulous agents or unknowing family members. They must practise due diligence while accepting packages."

In an earlier interview with Khaleej Times, Consul-General of India to Dubai Vipul confirmed that as of mid-2017, there were 90 Indian nationals in Al Aweer Central Jail for drug-related cases. "We keep getting cases wherein Indians who come here get caught at the airport with restricted medicines," he said.

The UAE has a very strict, zero-tolerance anti-drugs policy and conducts thorough searches at airports using the highly sensitive equipment.

Vipul added: "It is very difficult to ascertain an exact number, as local authorities don't distinguish between drugs and medical cases. Furthermore, it is not just workers who have been detained; people in all segments of the society have been arrested for possession of illegal medicines, especially tramadol." A synthetic opioid painkiller, tramadol was among nearly 400 drugs the UAE banned in 2010 for their addictive nature.

Anish stated that men need to always take care of their luggage in airports and not accept bags and packets from unknown people. In case they want to bring medicines, they must get their prescription attested by the UAE Embassy in India. As part of the awareness drive, Anish also spoke to the workers about phone scams, financial scams, health and welfare and identity theft.

Kusum Dutta, a social worker at the event, said: "People who bring restrictive medicines are not aware that it is illegal, and could get them into legal trouble. They must especially refrain from carrying painkillers and sleeping pills."

Meanwhile, A Vidyarthy, manager of Petron Emirates Contracting and Manufacturing Co. LLC, said: "Our ambassador has explained several things to the labourers. Especially made them aware of their basic rights and encouraged them to come forward to discuss their problems."

Sumathi Vasudev, consul (consular and labour affairs), said: "We organise these awareness camps on a regular basis and our main intention is to raise awareness and inform workers that they can approach us, especially through the IWRC hotline and the app Madad ("

(With inputs from Asma Ali Zain)

Prescription drugs advisory

> A doctor's prescription should be carried along with any medication that is brought into the country. It is not permitted to bring more than three month's supplies of medicine, as per guidelines of the health ministry.

> Do also keep in mind that medicines can be carried in your checked in luggage, but if one needs medicines during the flight, they can be placed in the hand luggage, provided one has documentary evidence.

> The health and concerned entities in the country place the drug safety as a top priority and take a series of precautionary measures regarding any involvement in this type of crimes.

> The UAE health authorities also follow the warning circular updates issued by the world health agencies such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency.

List of restricted medicines and the guidelines are here

Dhanusha Gokulan
Dhanusha Gokulan

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