National policy on H1N1 lists new measures for workers
BY PMA RASHEED
The Gulf Today, 30 Oct 2009
The national policy for prevention of H1N1 at the UAE's labour accommodations and workplaces has been unveiled on Thursday.
The policy aims at curbing the spread of the contagious disease and educating workers about its dangers.
As outlined in the comprehensive swine flu prevention strategy, companies should set up two separate isolation rooms at their labourer accommodations in the event of reported cases of inmates with swine flu symptoms, says a senior health ministry official.
Dr Mahmoud Fikri, Executive Director of the Health Policies Affairs at the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Chairman of the National Committee to Combat Swine Flu, said: "One of the isolation rooms should be dedicated for H1N1 confirmed cases, whereas the other room should be provided for suspected cases."
The newly-appointed chairman of the swine flu combating committee was speaking to The Gulf Today on the sidelines of a joint workshop conducted by the ministries of health and labour for representatives and PROs of companies at Sharjah Culture Palace.
Dr Fikri added that company PROs are responsible for educating labourers about the prevention measures of the swine flu and giving them lessons on hygienic living ways as well as things to do in the event of H1N1 infection.
Dr Gamil M Tourkey, Technical Director of Preventive Medicine Department at the MoH, said that a team from the health ministry on medical zone level will train communication officers of the Ministry of Labour (MoL) and company PROs in each emirate.
"The selected MoL official and company representatives will be trained on the MoH guidelines and regulations to be followed in the events of H1N1 infection cases. The measures to prevent the spread of the disease in labour camps, as well as treatment methods will be explained to them," he added.
According to him, the MoH has also printed thousands of swine flu educational materials such as brochures and posters in different languages for distribution at labour camps and work sites.
Dr Tourkey pointed out, "The MoH will receive reports on the flu cases from labour accommodations through the company PROs and the MoL officials. Director of the preventive medical department in each emirate has to report to the MoL officers about the infected cases reported by the company representatives, as well as preparing the record to send to the MoH headquarters."
"A technical team based on the preventive medical department in each emirate should visit the worker dwelling places upon receiving tip-off on the suspected cases. They will ensure that the patients are provided with isolation rooms and will take the infected to the nearest hospital if necessary," he explained.
Maher Alobad, Executive Director for Inspections at the Ministry of Labour, said, "Special MoL inspectors will conduct visits to labour accommodations to ensure the companies adhere to the H1N1 prevention regulations, and keep a healthy and hygienic living environment to workers."
"The MoL officers in each emirate have to record and inform the headquarters about the suspected cases reported by the PROs and preventive medical department heads. There are 20 inspection teams assigned across the UAE," he added.
According to Dr Ahmed Nabil M. Abou-Taleb, Head of Occupational Health Department at the MoH in Dubai, the isolation rooms for swine flu patients at worker accommodations should be set up separately from the common living area of workers in order to reduce the spread of the virus.
He said: "The rooms should have ample fresh air and should be provided with drugs for reducing fever temperature, digital thermo metre with disposable cover, protection masks, tissue papers, liquid hand-washing soaps and other anti-septic solutions. Also, separate bathrooms should be allocated to suspected and confirmed cases, provided with all hygienic measures."
"It's significant that the companies should arrange special vehicles, to transport the H1N1 infected patients to hospitals, which cannot be used for other purposes," he added.
According to Dr Nabil, the company should have a swine flu action team consisting of a nurse, a doctor and a supervisor of workers. The number of team members should be proportionate to the number of company's labourers.