x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Labourers get health checks on day off

800 Indians show up for a quarterly free medical camp at the Indian Consulate in Dubai.

Low income workers are given free medical tests at the Indian Consulate in Dubai.
Low income workers are given free medical tests at the Indian Consulate in Dubai.

DUBAI // By chance Sivadas Krishnan heard about a free medical camp at the Indian Consulate yesterday and went along for a routine check up.

It turned out to be a wise decision after doctors diagnosed the 60-year-old Indian with the early stages of diabetes.

He was also given a prescription for a worsening nose and throat infection.

The low-income worker, based in Jebel Ali, said he heard about the camp on the radio and was able to attend on his day off.

"It was very good. I only waited about an hour and the doctors were very helpful," he said, adding he was prescribed free medication for his diabetes and a cold, and advised to exercise more.

Mr Krishnan was one of about 800 Indians who formed long queues that snaked through and outside the consulate.

"This is the thirteenth time we have held this event and it's been growing in interest every time," said Sangeeta Matta Verma, president of the Indian Ladies Association, which organised the medical camp along with DM Healthcare.

"We hold these every three months and it is a very important because it gives people on low incomes like labourers an opportunity to get medical treatment when they would not normally be able to."

The camp is open to anyone earning Dh2,000 or below a month and ran from 8am to midday yesterday.

Although the consulate itself runs weekly health clinics, many of the people who need the most help are unable to get time off work to attend the sessions. The Indian Ladies Association's quarterly medical camps are usually the only ones they can go to.

Priority is given to people who have existing diabetic conditions, and everyone is given blood tests.

In all there are 10 doctors on duty including a dentist, an ear, nose and throat specialist, and an expert on respiratory illnesses. An optometrist is also on hand and free prescription eye glasses are handed out to people with poor vision.

The visitors can see any of the doctors they wish to and the prescription medication is free. A psychologist is also on hand to discuss mental health issues.

"I tend to get mainly women coming to see me and they want to talk about relationship problems or mild cases of depression," said Lavina Ahuja, the psychologist on duty at the event.

"For Indian women in particular there can be a real issue with a sense of isolation. They probably only see their husbands early in the morning or after 10pm at night and for the rest of the time they are on their own."

Sanjay Verma, the Indian consul general, said he was delighted at the turnout.

"These are done quarterly but we are looking into running them more often because there is a need for them."