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Stringent measures planned to control diseases in UAE.

Abu Dhabi: Authorities will take stringent measures to prevent and control communicable diseases, but will maintain the right of patients to access health care at governmental hospitals and privacy, according to a new draft law.

The legislation, being reviewed by the health committee of the Federal National Council, states that a person who knowingly exposes another to a communicable disease can face up to five years in prison, a fine of up to Dh100,000 or both for failing to comply with control measures.

Under the bill, which requires approval by the House before being signed into a law by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, a "communicable disease" is defined as an illness that occurs through the transmission of an infectious agent or its toxic products from a reservoir to a susceptible host, either directly or indirectly.

The draft law requires immediate reporting to the health authorities by physicians, medical technicians and chemists after their first professional encounter with persons known or suspected to be infected with certain diseases including anthrax, cholera, avian influenza, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis (A,E) and Tuberculosis (pulmonary and extra-pulmonary), among others.

Leprosy, malaria, measles, meningitis, plague and smallpox would also be among a list of nearly 30 contagious diseases that have to be reported immediately. The list may be changed to include any unusual, emerging disease specified by the concerned department in the Ministry of Health, according to the draft law.

Chickenpox, influenza, mumps, scabies, typhoid and paratyphoid, hepatitis (B,C,D) and other zoonotic ailments or relating to an animal disease that can infect humans would be reported to authorities within a week.

Persons who know or suspect they are infected with any communicable disease will be barred from travelling anywhere except a clinic to seek health care, unless otherwise permitted by the Health Ministry.

Travellers who have or are carriers of a communicable disease will also be denied entry to the UAE unless they report their diseases to the Ministry of Health and obtain its consent. They also have to inform authorities immediately on arrival in the country.

The Health Ministry and medical institutions will examine visitors and residents to ensure they do not have a communicable diseases as mentioned in a cabinet resolution.

Patients with communicable diseases will not be subjected to any special restrictions or conditions, which bar them from their legal rights as enshrined in the UAE's laws, states the bill, which will revoke the Federal Law No 27 of 1981 on protection from contagious diseases.

Information related to patients or suspected patients with communicable diseases such as medical records and medical history shall not be disclosed, unless disclosure is required by law.

The bill encourages residents to undergo voluntary medical examination to ensure they are free from any communicable disease. Those found to be patients with communicable diseases can get treatment at government hospitals as long as their visas are valid, and can have their visas renewed if they are medically fit.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Apr 4, 2014
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