Monday 28 September 2020 - 1:08:03 am

Health Ministry to launch national policy for disease prevention

ABU DHABI, 25th October, 2017 (WAM) -- The Ministry of Health and Prevention is working on issuing a public health law, as well as drafting a national policy for disease prevention.

Dr. Amin Hussain Al Amiri, Assistant Under-Secretary for Public Health Policy and Licensing Sector at the ministry said that the public health law and the national policy for disease prevention would help create a legislative system to combat diseases and prevent them, especially in light of the UAE’s global position in the field of disease prevention and treatment.

In a statement to the Emirates News Agency, WAM, Al Amiri explained that improving legislation related to public health is a priority for the government, as it is one of the six pillars of the country’s national agenda aimed at providing healthcare of high international standards.

He said that the UAE wanted to improve the healthcare services for its residents, which would comply with the best practices at the international level, and this required upgrading the existing legislation.

Al Amiri highlighted the various health programmes initiated by the ministry to combat communicable and contagious diseases, including the national immunisation programme, the national polio eradication programme, the foreign labour screening programme and the national tuberculosis control programme.

The UAE has achieved major successes in combating communicable and contagious diseases, as it was among the first countries to end poliomyelitis, cholera and measles, among other diseases, which threatened public health in the community and posed obstacles to the development process.

The UAE had issued Federal Law No. 14 of 2014 to combat communicable diseases, which was among the key steps taken by the country in this regard. This legislation ensured the protection of public health by promoting the country’s efforts to implement a strategy aimed at combating these diseases, which was followed by Resolution No. 33 of 2016 by the UAE Council of Ministers, which was related to the executive regulations of Federal Law No. 14 of 2014.

The law demands that the relevant authorities, led by the ministry, must implement strategies and plans to reduce the rates of infection and deaths caused by communicable diseases, through the early detection and control of infected cases and sources of contagion.

Law No. 23 includes an article that defines the relevant terms and the ways of reporting communicable diseases, including those transmitted to humans through animals, along with the procedures to be followed to combat these diseases, the rights and duties of infected persons, the conditions of isolation and quarantine and the procedures for dealing with deaths, which are applicable to infected foreigners or those suspected of being infected with these diseases.

The "medical check-up centres" for foreign workers are the first line of defence for the community, especially in light of the arrival of thousands of foreign workers to the country on an annual basis for work and residence, who could be carrying contagious and communicable diseases that pose a threat to public health.

The Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 05 of 2016 aims to support the preventive role of these centres, by amending some of the provisions of the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers No. 07 of 2008 relating to the medical assessment of foreigners coming to the UAE for work or residence, which is among the key legislations that aim to reduce the emergence of communicable diseases in the country.

The resolution stipulates that foreigners coming to the UAE for residence should have several medical assessments, including tests for HIV, viral hepatitis and leprosy, as well as pregnancy screening for domestic workers, such as maids, janitors, drivers, and all relevant workers, before being issued a disease-free certificate. If pregnancy is proven, the sponsor has the option to allow the applicant to work or not, but the sponsor must provide a relevantly written acknowledgement.

The vaccination programmes provided by the UAE to all children residing in its territory are also a first defence line against the emergence of communicable and contagious diseases. These include vaccinations against tuberculosis, BCG, hepatitis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, Haemophilus influenza and pneumococcal influenza.