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Medical Tests for Expatriates Coming to the GCC Countries

GCCSome are starting to follow a system that makes expatriates undergo an extra set of medical fitness tests in their home countries before landing in the for a job or residency. A senior Ministry of Health official on Tuesday revealed “They will undergo re-testing upon arrival and the system will be in place shortly”. “The decision was taken after a noticeable increase in the number of infectious diseases among certain categories of workers from endemic countries” said Dr Mahmud Fikri, Assistant Undersecretary for Health Policies. A senior official of the GCC Health Ministers Council stressed that it was expected of UAE to join the regional health testing system currently being followed by Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Nepal are involved in the program which covers over 1.5 million employees who come to the GCC countries each year to work. Dr Tawfik Al Khoja, Director-General, Executive Board of The Health Ministers’ Council for GCC States, writes on the website “Besides fearing the arrival of any disease, some workers might not be able to fulfill the tasks assigned to them due to illness”.

Embassies and consulates of the GCC countries in those countries and cities are connected to the system. Dr Fikri mentioned “About 21 per cent of the total Asian categories tested in 2009 had tuberculosis. It was important to test expats in their countries and re-do the test in the UAE so as to minimize expenses incurred on a worker who arrives here with a disease and avoid spreading of the disease locally”. Dr Ali Marzouqi, Director of Health and Safety at the DHA said “It will be up to the employer to decide if he wants to hire an employee despite his medical condition”. Expatriates undergo many tests for infectious diseases such as HIV, pulmonary TB and leprosy. Only specific categories of workers are tested for Hepatitis and Syphilis.

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