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Dubai to launch pre-entry screening

posted on 26/08/2007: 1460 views

Dubai-bound workers from certain countries may soon be required to present a clean bill of health prior to entering the emirate, to minimise importing infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis. Infectious diseases have gained new importance globally, with the emergence of new diseases and their faster spread thanks to international air travel, according to the 2007 World Health Report by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Almost 29 million people went through Dubai airport in 2006, mostly workers and tourists. Dr Ali Al Marzouqi, Director of public health at the Dubai Department of Health and Medical Services (Dohms), told Gulf News that the pre-entry screening policy would likely target workers from countries with high incidence of infectious diseases, with large communities in the UAE.

"The pre-entry screening will be required for only certain countries, such as India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the Philippines," he said. Under the policy, Dubai-bound workers from listed countries would have to undergo health screenings for infectious diseases, as well as chronic diseases, including diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

The health centres, which must be vetted by the Dubai government, will then issue the health certificate, clearing the workers for work. To prevent faked results, Dr Al Marzouqi said these workers would have to be screened again upon arrival.

He added that the policy, which is pending approval, was important to protect the community from exposure to infectious diseases. A total of 312 TB cases were detected last year in the emirate, mostly among newcomers.

He said the policy was a win-win situation for all-saving workers the cost of travel, companies the cost of hiring and flying the workers in, and the emirate's healthcare system of treating them. Dubai does not deport its residents who contract tuberculosis and other curable public health diseases, and instead treats them for free.

In proposing the pre-entry screening policy for Dubai, the emirate is trying to follow a GCC-wide health initiative that requires inbound workers to be screened for certain diseases.

Dr Juma Bilal Fairuz, Director of disease control at the Ministry of Health and head of the National TB Committee, told Gulf News that the committee was focused on requiring pre-entry screening for tuberculosis, before other diseases.


Steady increase in passenger traffic

Passenger throughput at Dubai International Airport, one of the Middle East's major travel hubs, has increased steadily over the years.

2000 – 12.3 million

2001 – 13.5 million.

2002 – 16 million.

2003 – 18 million

2004 – 21.7 million

2005 – 25.7 million

2006 – 28.7 million.

2007 - 31.7 million (expected)

- Source: Dubai Civil Aviation. (Gulf News)


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