New medical tests for migrant workers

Ethiopians will be screened for 16 medical conditions, following what the Ministry of Health says has been a successful campaign of health checks for Sri Lankan and Indonesian workers.

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DUBAI // Workers from Ethiopia will need to pass tests for 16 medical conditions, including HIV and tuberculosis, in their home country before they are granted visas to live and work in the UAE.

The Ministry of Health said yesterday that because of the success of current health screenings in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, it has decided to introduce them for Ethiopians.

Dr Mahmoud Fikri, assistant undersecretary for health policies at the ministry, said that since October 1, when the ministry rolled out the system in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, 50 per cent failed their medical tests and were barred from entering the UAE.

The majority were found to be infected with tuberculosis, cases of which have risen in the UAE in recent years among newcomers.

He said this has helped to save the sponsor or the employer many problems and fees.

After going through the medical screening, the workers need to attest the test certificate at the UAE Embassy in their own country before heading to the Emirates.

Once in the UAE, they will still need to be retested for tuberculosis, leprosy, hepatitis B and HIV /Aids, undergoing the same tests each time they renew their visa.

The health ministry plans to eventually roll out screenings in seven other countries - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Nepal, Egypt and Sudan.

Nationals of these countries planning to come to the UAE for work from a job in another country need to have a valid visa from the home country before they arrive in the UAE.

If they do not have a valid visa from the first country, they would need to do the health checks before UAE entry.

The ministry said that another Asian country would be added to the list by the fourth quarter of this year, but gave no details.

The health ministry had been able to link data electronically among GCC countries so that all the information would be accessible before an individual applied for a visa, said Dr Fikri.

The number of workers arriving for employment in the region from the 10 applicable countries averages more than 1.7 million people a year.