Introduction The 1981 Ministry of Health law of United Arab Emirates mandates health screening of all immigrant residents above 18 years of age at initial visa issuance and visa renewal every 3 years. Screening is done for five communicable diseases. The Health Authority of Abu Dhabi (HAAD) which is the healthcare regulatory body is responsible for implementation of the visa screening law in the Emirate. Annually, about one million applicants including new and old immigrants undergo screening at seven certified centers in Abu Dhabi. This report discusses the improvement in the health screening process and the 2010 prevalence of HIV infection among the immigrants in Abu Dhabi.
Methodology In 2009, HAAD upgraded the visa health screening system by issuing screening standards for the delivery of efficient and standardised clinical services. Concomitantly an Oracle-based information system was established for rapid and reliable data collection and generation of real-time reports.
Results Following system upgrades, the screening capacity increased from 1500 to 5000 applicants daily and time for issuance of fitness certificate decreased from 48 h to 2 h over 2 years.
There were 935 233 applicants screened in 2010 including 56% new visa applicants and 20% females. The prevalence of HIV infection was 25 and 7 per 100 000 among the new and old immigrants respectively (p<0.001).
Conclusion The Abu Dhabi immigrant health screening has improved particularly the applicant turnaround time, data availability and reliability. The process could be adopted by health systems with similar visa screening requirements.
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