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Urgent need for effective surveillance and control of emerging infectious diseases in GCC

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2013-12-03 12:50:53 - Infectious disease emergence to be discussed at Arab Health Congress 2014

Dubai, UAE: The GCC countries receive around two million working expatriates annually and 25% of these expatriates suffer from health issues, specifically infectious diseases . The most prevalent infectious diseases among expatriate workers are influenza, chicken pox, hepatitis, TB, malaria, sexually transmitted diseases, food borne disease, fecal-oral transmission diseases, and others. Communicable diseases still remain a concern to the GCC authorities, despite the fact that the incidence of many communicable diseases has declined sharply in recent years, emphasising the urgent need for effective surveillance and control in the region.

Dr Wasif Muhammad Alam, Director, Public Health & Safety, Dubai Health Authority (DHA), and Dr Rasha Salama, Senior Specialist, Public Health, Dubai Health Authority (DHA) will be discussing the current climate

of infectious diseases in the UAE and GCC at the new Emerging Diseases of Public Health: Strategies and Interventions Conference at the Arab Health Exhibition & Congress from 27-28 January 2014 at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre.

According to Dr Alam, “The spread of communicable disease among expatriate workers can be fatal and the consequences are wide ranging. Factors that contribute to the spread of infectious diseases among expatriate workers, specifically migrant construction workers, include poor living conditions in many migrant worker camps as well as lack of awareness among employers and employees of the health impact of these diseases.”

The GCC countries have been successfully implementing labour expatriate medical testing programmes in worker's home countries in the hope that the spread of these critical infectious diseases could be minimized. These expat workers get tested again once they enter the country and screened again for the working visa renewal & .

According to Dr Alam, “Despite the extensive screening efforts to tackle the problem of infectious disease transmission among expatriate employees, a key factor remains health awareness and health promotion which plays a vital role in educating employers and employees about the risks of contracting and spreading these diseases, especially for the diseases that are not currently screened in the region, such as chicken pox, hand to mouth diseases, food and water borne diseases that immigrant workers may carry.”

Standards of healthcare are generally high in the Emirate of Dubai, reflecting high levels of public health over the last decades. However, communicable diseases still stand as a concern to the Emirate and plans are still on-going to control, eliminate and/or eradicate such diseases.

“The increase in prevalence of many infectious diseases together with the on-going evolution of viral and microbial variants, and selection for drug resistance, suggests that infections will continue to emerge, and probably increase,” adds Dr Salama. “This emphasises the urgent need for effective surveillance and control in the region. Early warning of emerging and re-emerging infections depends on our ability to identify unusual patterns and occurrences as early as possible. Information exchange and collaboration with GCC countries is, therefore, essential.”


Note to Editors

About Arab Health Exhibition & Congress

Arab Health Exhibition & Congress is the largest healthcare event in the Middle East. Established 39 years ago, Arab Health provides a platform for the world’s leading manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors to meet the medical and scientific community in the Middle East and subcontinent. Arab Health, organised by Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions, takes place from 27-30 January 2014 at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre. With more than 3900 exhibiting companies from 63 countries and 19 healthcare conferences with an estimated 9000 delegates, Arab Health is a much anticipated addition to the 2014 medical event calendar.


About Dubai Health Authority:


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