x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Dubai healthcare workers to be tested for contagious diseases

Healthcare workers in the emirate will be given mandatory screenings for contagious diseases, alongside those for visa applications, the Dubai Health Authority has announced.

DUBAI // Healthcare workers in the emirate will be given mandatory screenings for contagious diseases, the Dubai Health Authority announced today.

The screenings, which will take place every three years, will check workers for HIV, hepatitis B and C, pulmonary tuberculosis, chickenpox and syphilis.

The visa-renewal process only requires residents to have tests for HIV and pulmonary tuberculosis.

Some other professions also require tests for syphilis and hepatitis B, but that has not been a requirement for healthcare workers.

Anyone who tests positive for certain diseases will, depending on the level of their job and the disease, be moved to a position that reduces the risk of the infection spreading.

“There are three categories – high-risk areas, grey and low-risk areas – so we can transfer from high risk to low risk,” said Dr Aizeldin Al Jack, a consultant and head of the preventive medicine division at the authority’s public health and safety department.

An example of a high-risk area would be anyone who performs invasive surgery.

Healthcare workers across public and private hospitals who are found to have a communicable disease will also receive counselling, said the doctor.

Syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease, is one that would result in someone being transferred temporarily, said Dr Al Jack.

After being prescribed medication and receiving the all-clear, the healthcare worker would then be reinstated to their original position, he said.

In the case of a transferral to a low-risk area, workers could be given responsibility for taking X-rays or checking a patient’s medical history.

All healthcare workers, regardless of their nationality, will be screened to prevent the spread of disease and a rise in the number of complications associated with communicable diseases.

“It is essential that all healthcare workers are aware of their infection status so that early secondary and tertiary preventive steps can be taken,” said Dr Lubna Al Shaali, a public health specialist at the public health and safety department of DHA.

“Awareness of their health status is important for them as well as for their families, as they can infect their close ones.”

ZAlhassani@thenational.ae