Authorities say investigation has to be undertaken because more than 10% of cases of scars become active tuberculosis.
Dubai: The policy of deportation that applies to expatriates with tuberculosis scars is reviewed on a case-by-case basis, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) reiterated.
The policy implementation has once again come to the fore following the recent case of a 61-year-old Indian man who has lived in the UAE for the past 40 years.
“ Further medical investigations are conducted to determine the size and nature of the scar. A committee consisting of radiologists and doctors is formed. The decision is taken based on the individual’s case.” ”
As reported by Gulf News the resident, Akbar Ali, claimed he was facing deportation due to old tuberculosis (TB) scars on his lungs.
However, a senior spokesperson from the DHA told Gulf News that the long-term resident has been diagnosed with active tuberculosis.
As per UAE Ministerial decrees 28/2010 and 7/2008 newcomers who have been found to have active or old pulmonary TB are denied a fitness certificate, which is mandatory for a residence/employment visa.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tuberculosis, caused by bacteria that usually attacks the lungs, is spread through the air from one person to another. If not treated properly, it can be fatal.
Maisa Al Bustani, Director of Medical Fitness at the DHA, explained that residents with active TB are deported in line with the federal law whereas residents with old TB scars are medically evaluated and each applicant is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
“In some cases, deportation is required, while in others, we issue a fit certificate on the condition of a regular follow-up. This means the individual visits the centre after one, three, six, nine, 12 and 18 months. When we renew the individual’s medical fitness certificate, which is a periodic procedure, he has to repeat this cycle of a regular follow-up,” she said.
She said that the follow-up procedure is necessary because more than 10 per cent of cases of TB scars become active TB.
“Further medical investigations are conducted to determine the size and nature of the scar. A committee consisting of radiologists and doctors is formed. The decision is taken based on the individual’s case,” she said. Specific to the case of the long-term resident, Maisa said: “He has active TB and therefore he is facing deportation as per the federal law.”
Finer details in Ali case
The director clarified saying that during Ali’s recent medical fitness test for a new visa, his old TB scar was put forth for further investigation in line with regular procedures.
As he was a long-term resident, he was issued a fit certificate on the condition that he would undergo the stipulated follow-up procedure.
Maisa said the results of the investigation showed he had active TB. After which, he is being kept in isolation and is currently on TB medication.
“It is important to note that we do not isolate people with TB scars, we only isolate those with active TB. This procedure is done to ensure the safety of the community. The purpose of isolation is to stop TB dissemination in the community,” she said.
Maisa added that contrary to what the resident claimed, residents with active TB are not isolated along with HIV and hepatitis patients.
“This is against international practice and compromises the safety of the HIV [infected] person. Also we never isolate people with hepatitis as it is not required,” she said.