Thursday, October 23, 2008

Residents confused over where to go for medical fitness tests

Dubai: Ignorance about where to go for medical fitness certification, required for expatriates before they can get their labour card and residency visas, coupled with a shortage of facilities has caused delays.

The UAE in July required medical fitness certification to be done only at certified centres, barring municipality clinics from conducting the tests. The Ministry of Health on Sunday also announced private centres can no longer conduct medical fitness certification. The decision has caused confusion and delays in processing certification, as fewer facilities are available.

Maisa Al Bustani, director of the medical fitness department at Department of Health and Medical Services (Dohms), admitted to Gulf News the seven certified centres did not have enough equipment to quickly process more than 3,000 applicants daily.

"The registration and blood tests happen quite fast but because of the shortage of X-ray machines [the waiting time is longer]," she said.

She added that Dohms has taken steps to ease the congestion and waiting time for the time being, assigning various centres according to professional category.

At the same time, Dohms is also building a one-stop medical certification centre in Al Ghusais, which will include an office for Dubai Residency and Naturalisation Department officials. It is expected to open by the end of the year. The centre aims to process 5,000 applicants daily

Until the centre opens, however, Maisa asked the public for their patience and understanding.

"People will have to bear with us for a bit, at least until the other centre is up and running," she said, adding there were plans to open a similar centre in Jebel Ali if demand continues to be higher.

Some residents Gulf News spoke to expressed confusion over the issue, saying more should be done to inform the public of their options.

"I don't know where to go now. New rules are coming out right and left. I [want] the news communicated clearly. It's very important to make the announcement once and for all," said Dalia Aziz, head of department at an international company.

Various categories

- Labourers: Al Maktoum Hospital, open 24 hours, and Al Satwa clinic, open till 10pm and till 1pm on Saturday. Both are closed on Fridays.

- Domestic workers: Al Khawaneej, Al Twar and Al Mankhool clinics. Open till 8pm during the week and till 1pm on Saturdays. Closed on Fridays.

- Professionals: Al Safa clinic, open till 5pm during the week and till 1pm on Saturdays. Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) clinic only accepts DIFC employees. Normal office hours apply.


Medical fitness certification involves two medical tests: blood tests to check for HIV/Aids, hepatitis B and C, and syphilis. A chest X-ray will also be done to check for tuberculosis.

Anyone with HIV/Aids and tuberculosis will be denied a residency and employment visa, and will be deported.