Last week, a Khaleej Times investigative report had revealed that some private clinics and labs were concealing results of infectious diseases from the authorities. By law, diseases such as HIV/Aids, Hepatitis B, TB and Syphilis should be reported to the authorities and expatriates found to be infected with any of these diseases except Syphilis, will be deported.
“We are considering imposing a fine for not notifying us,” said Dr Fatma Al Attar, Head of Preventive Medicine Services, Primary Health Care at the DHA.
“However, most private facilities are cooperative and notify us on the required 46 infectious diseases,” she said. The notifications remain just numbers to the authorities unless an infectious disease is reported. In 2011, a total of 114 expatriates were deported after being notified by the private sector. Of these, 85 were HIV positive cases, 9 Aids cases, 10 of pulmonary TB, seven of leprosy and 3 cases of Hepatitis B. Total infectious diseases notified in 2011 were 10,213 of which 8,252 were reported by the private sector and 1,962 by DHA centres.
“We do not completely rely on the notification and send a person home,” she explained. A confirmatory test is done on a suspicious case and the decision is taken accordingly.
Dr Fatma said that ‘hiding results’ would be of not much benefit to anyone.
“Eventually, they have to come back to the government health centres for a medical if they want to continue their residency/employment in the UAE.”
While a person infected with HIV/Aids may be deported straight away, health authorities have to treat cases of TB and Hepatitis B before sending them home for fear of spread of infection.
“Not only is the person infected with TB tested and treated for free, but tests also have to be done on people exposed to the infected person,” said Dr Fatma.
“So, you see how much it costs the DHA just to protect the community,” she added. In March, the authority had issued a circular to all private healthcare establishments stating that they had failed to provide statistical data on birth, death and infectious diseases for the years 2010-2011.
A deadline of three weeks that ended on March 29 was given and the establishments were warned that failing to provide data would result in transactions being blocked. The notification system is online and simple to use, she explained. “Thew facilities are issued a username and password, and in case they default, we block them from the system,” added Dr Fatma.
The authority, she said, keeps an eye on the facilities by checking their registers and by performing onsite surveillance.
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