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Saturday, August 21, 2010

UAE amends residency medical laws

According to the new MoH ruling, blood-borne diseases like Hepatitis B and tuberculosis will no longer be deportable offences.

By PMA RASHEED
The Gulf Today, 20 Aug 2010

Flashing rays of hope for thousands of job seekers, the UAE authorities have announced a set of significant amendments in the federal rule on medical fitness tests required for issuing residence visas to expatriates.
According to the new ruling, blood-borne diseases like Hepatitis B and tuberculosis will no longer be deportable offences, as the resident expatriates don’t have to undergo tests for them while renewing their residence visas.
However, a specific date for implementing the new federal decision has not yet been confirmed by the Ministry of Health (MoH), sources of which said the ruling would come into effect from the next day of it being published in the official gazette.
While addressing the media in Dubai on Thursday, the UAE Minister of Health Dr Hanif Hassan said that the mandatory test for Hepatitis-B detection has been limited for only six categories of workers, while they apply for new residence visas, or renewal of their existing permits.
“The workers will not be deported from the country, if the tests confirm they are disease positive. Instead, the health authorities will give them treatment,” he added.
“The working groups include nannies, housemaids, barbers or beauticians and health club technicians, foodstuff handlers, eatery employees, and nursery or kindergarten supervisors,” elaborated Dr Mahmoud Fikri, CEO of Health Policies at the MoH.
“New residence or labour permits or renewals shall not be granted to the positive cases in these categories,” he added.
“However, vaccination for the Hepatitis-B is must for those who are tested negative among these categories, who should take three doses of preventive vaccines,” noted Dr Fikri.
“They will be issued a vaccination certificate, which has to be produced at the time of the visa renewal to exempt them from further vaccinations. In the events of being unable to show the certificate, the vaccination will be repeated charging an additional fee of Dhs500,” he pointed out.
According to him, the mandatory test for Hepatitis-C has been cancelled, as the liver disease usually transmits through infected blood.
“Mandatory tests for tuberculosis and leprosy have also been limited to the active or old pulmonary (chest) tuberculosis, for which the new arrivals only have to undergo the examination. At the time of renewal, the residency visa is not permitted to leprosy positive cases,” pointed out Dr Fikri.
“The check-up for syphilis also will be carried out only on the above mentioned six categories, while they apply for new visas or residency renewal. Treatment must be provided to all positive cases before obtaining the health certificate,” he added.
“For AIDS,” the official said, “Tests are compulsory for all, both while applying for the first time residency and at the time of renewal.”
“All maids, nannies and female drivers must have to undergo pregnancy tests before issuing the certificate of diseases that pose threat to the public health,” said Dr Fikri.
“In case of positive pregnancy, the sponsor has to decide whether to retain the services of the candidate or not. If the sponsor refuses the candidate, a written consent has to be submitted to the authorities with the test result,” he explained.
Dr Hanif Hassan said that the modifications have been made in five provisions of the Cabinet Decision No.7/2008 on the medical checkup procedures to obtain labour and residence permits for the expatriates.
“However,” the health minister assured that “no additional fees or increase will be imposed as per the latest procedures on various medical check-ups. Articles two, three, four, five and 10 of the rule have been replaced.”
(Photo used for illustrative purpose only)

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