The head of the UAE’s Ministerial Service Council, Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, recently announced expats must now pass medical exams in both their home countries and the UAE in order to obtain work visas.
The new regulations are the result of widespread fraud linked to foreign workers, many of whom fake test results or bribe physicians in their home countries to provide them with clean bills of health.
The corruption is not confined to physicians abroad: one recent case saw a 25-year old employee of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) charged with receiving 30,000 Dhs (8,167 USD) to issue fake health certificates for foreign workers.
Under the new test regime, any expat wanting to work in the UAE must be tested for HIV/AIDS, syphilis and pulmonary TB. Housemaids and nannies must submit to a pregnancy test, while all kindergarten school employees, barbers, health club workers and restaurant employees must be proven free of hepatitis B.
Officials hope the new regulations will help alleviate the burden sick expats place on the UAE’s government-funded healthcare system, which is beginning to struggle under the weight of rising costs.
A recent survey found some 75% of workers in Dubai rely on government-funded care.
According to the Dubai Statistics Center’s most recent Labour Force Survey, expats made up more than 96% of the UAE’s “economically active” population in 2009.