Pharmacies flout rules

SHARJAH — Some pharmacies in Sharjah are blatantly flouting the country’s health regulations by offering medical services which only clinics and hospitals are allowed to provide.

By Asma Ali Zain And Sebugwaawo Ismail

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Published: Tue 24 Jul 2007, 8:41 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:19 AM

Khaleej Times recently discovered that a few pharmacies in Sharjah were openly carrying out blood tests for various suspected ailments, including blood-sugar levels and HIV/AIDS.

A blood-sugar test costs Dh5 depending on the status of the pharmacy. An HIV test could cost as much as Dh100.

A number of patients who have been diagnosed for diabetes said the tests are often followed up by treatment for which the charges vary. They are also done without a doctor’s prescription, they add.

A Khaleej Times reporter, complaining of weakness and body pain, went to get his blood-sugar level checked at one of the pharmacies in Abu Shagara. His reading showed 129 degrees (test reading), which the physician claimed was normal. However, an attendant at the same shop was quick to recommend some medicine for what he claimed could help in overcoming “weakness and body pain.”

It is also learnt that some pharmacies are also offering HIV tests, which are reportedly taken by people seeking residence visa. The HIV tests are carried out with the help of the newly-introduced HIV test gadgets.

“Many residence visa-seekers often prefer to come here before they go to government hospitals for tests,” said a physician of another pharmacy. “They fear that if at a government hospital they test HIV-positive, they would be deported,” he added.

A ‘physician’, who claimed he has been in the business for a year, also claimed to have carried out several HIV tests, but has never come across an HIV-positive case.

“My ‘boss’ said he had diagnosed one and advised him to go back to his native land, rather than risk being deported,” he added.

Fauz Ejang, a Kenyan expatriate residing in Sharjah, said he had visited a pharmacy in Al Wahda area recently for an HIV test. “I had to check my HIV status when I was going to apply for my residence visa. The good thing is that I tested negative. I could not risk going to the government hospital before I was sure of the results,” said Ejang.

Amin, an Indian expatriate, also confessed having visited two pharmacies in Sharjah for both diabetes and HIV tests.

According to officials of the Ministry of Health in Sharjah, pharmacists are not permitted to carry out any kind of tests, including those of HIV and diabetes.

Shaikh Mohammed Al Qasimi, head of the Ministry of Health in Sharjah, said patients should not get fooled by pharmacists by agreeing to go in for such tests. “HIV and diabetes tests can be carried out only in hospitals or medical centres,” he pointed out.

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