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Dr Ibrahim Al Shaar, director of the Medical Commission
DOHA: The rule that foreign workers must undergo a medical check-up in their home country before they arrive here to take up jobs applies only to nationals of 11 Asian and African states.
The Asian countries are Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka, while the African states are Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan.
All workers coming from these countries, including unskilled and semi-skilled workers and professionals, must take medical tests before travelling to Qatar. Nationals of other countries coming here to work are exempt from this rule.
The rule is in place since February 2011, but has not been fully implemented due to some technical difficulties, Dr Ibrahim Al Shaar, director of the Medical Commission, told The Peninsula yesterday.
The Commission conducts health checks on newly arrived foreign workers to make sure that they test negative for HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis B and C to be entitled to a work visa.
“We have already started the tests in several countries, but currently it is kind of optional. We are working with the Ministry of Interior to strictly and fully implement the system, and this can be expected in less than a year,” said Al Shaar.
Under the system, all new recruits from the said countries must undergo medical tests in their country that are similar to the check-up done by the Medical Commission here. Only those who clear the tests will be issued a visa to work in Qatar.
After their arrival in Qatar, the workers must undergo a check-up at the Medical Commission.
The mandatory screening is a precaution against the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. There is no decision until now on bringing job seekers from other countries under the system, said Al Shaar. More than 200 medical centres in the said countries have been authorised by Qatar to conduct the tests. The fee for the tests has been fixed at $50 in all the countries. To effectively implement the system, all these medical centres are being electronically linked to the Medical Commission.
“The authorised medical centres in the source countries will transfer the test results to the Medical Commission electronically, and we will transfer them to the Ministry of Interior. The visas will be issued based on the test results,” said Al Shaar.
He added that a delay in developing the electronic network had delayed implementation of the system.
Screening in the home country had been a must for foreigners seeking jobs in Qatar until it was stopped more than a decade ago. It has now been reintroduced in view of the huge influx of foreign workers from several Asian and African countries.