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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 28/01/2014
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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Doctors on Monday, while calling for stringent screening methods and tighter laws to govern public health, said that most communicable diseases such as chicken pox, TB and malaria were 'imported' cases

"Are we safe?" questioned Dr Wasiful Alam, Director, Public Health and Safety, Health Policy and Strategy Sector at Dubai Health Authority

"Communicable disease is a double challenge for GCC governments along with diseases such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension.

"For this reason, a Public Health Law has been drafted and is expected to be rolled out this year," said Dr Alam

He was speaking at the first ever conference on Emerging Disease of Public Health: Strategies and Interventions alongside the four-day Arab Health Exhibition and Congress taking place at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre

"Many of the expatriate workers from high risk communicable disease areas migrate to the UAE and impose a health threat to others, as well," he said

There are over 5,000,000 expats in the UAE currently, making up 90 per cent of the population of which half a million are domestic workers

"Expat workers not only affect the health but have a psychological impact as well, especially housemaids " this directly or indirectly impacts public health," he said

Fear of being deported, losing a job and at times ignored by employers who do not care, many blue-collar workers do not seek treatnt

At least 25 per cent of the two million expat workforce in the GCC are males. Majority come from high risk countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal

Among the most CDs reported in Dubai are chicken pox, pulmonary TB, Hepatitis, B, C, malaria, scabies, STDs and food poisoning

In 2012 alone, a total of 9,891 cases of CDs were reported among expatriates and nationals alike. Of this, 9,389 (95 per cent) were expatriates while only 502 (five per cent) were UAE nationals

The GCC in 2012 introduced a screening for workers at their home countries which brought down the incidence of disease from 20 to seven per cent, said Dr Tawfik Khoja, Director-General, Executive Board, Health Ministers Council for Cooperation, Saudi Arabia

GCC is also initiating a plan to link all health centres and offices across the region

Dr Wasif said that measures that address migrant safety and health of workers should be developed according to the HRW, ILO, UN/WHO guidelines

Dr Farida Al Hosani, Adjunct Assistant Professor, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, UAEU said managing such a huge workforce was a challenge

"However, childhood diseases such as polio that were present in 1985 no longer exist " we have overcome that," she said

The 39th Arab Health Exhibition and Congress was inaugurated by Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance and Industr


Khaleej Times

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