Saudi Arabia (BBN)-Arab states comprising the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are tightening their medical screening process for newly arriving expatriates to prevent the entry of communicable diseases, a Saudi Arabian news site reported Monday.
The GCC also plans to closely watch accredited health centers in the manpower-exporting countries, according to the Arab News report.
Citing its sources, the report said "Bangladesh and Philippines are among the countries whose medical centers have erroneously sent sick individuals to the region."
It added many Asian nationals had been deported after arriving in Saudi Arabia after managing to fly out even if they were declared medically unfit in their home countries.
Basheer Al-Sufyani, head of a mission that inspected and evaluated accredited health centers in South Asian countries, noted some 2.2 million expatriates seek employment in GCC countries. Of these, one million have applied to Saudi Arabia.
GCC also includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
Still, Al-Sufyani said preliminary screening has reduced the number of infected persons entering GCC countries to nearly five percent of all new arrivals.
The Arab News report said an inspection team from an expatriate health checkup mission launched by the executive board of the GCC Health Ministers Council recently visited South Asian countries.
It conducted random checks and evaluated the performance of accredited health centers, the report said.
Arab News quoted Al-Sufyani as saying there are 298 accredited health centers in 11 manpower-exporting countries, including 31 in the Philippines.
He said India has 107 centers, Bangladesh 35, Indonesia 30, Pakistan 22, Sri Lanka 15, Egypt 13, Nepal 12, Syria six and Sudan five.
“Nationals from these countries, as well as Ethiopia, are required to undergo medical screening prior to having their GCC employment visas endorsed,” Al-Sufyani said.
However, he added expats will be checked again upon entering a GCC state to check for possible medical error.
"These checks will ensure that the incubation period of certain diseases has passed,” he said.
Al-Sufyani also said the medical reports will be linked electronically among GCC countries.
“Results will be uploaded onto consulate or embassy websites in host countries, which will be shared through a unified GCC electronic gateway. This will eradicate the possibility of test results being manipulated,” he said.