Only medically fit are welcome to work in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states as the group made a joint decision not to hire workers suffering from chronic diseases to reduce pressure on their respective health services.
The decision comes after reports that about 10 percent of the 2 million workers recruited by the GCC states suffer from chronic ailments such as diabetes and hypertension.
“The member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council have jointly decided not to recruit workers suffering from chronic diseases in their bid to reduce pressure on their health facilities,” said Tawfik Khoja, director general of the Gulf Health Ministers Council, which shut down a number of medical test centers for violations but opened accredited medical test centers in 18 countries including India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Egypt — the largest sources of migrant workers to the region.
According to Mr. Khoja, Saudi health authorities recently found 14 workers unfit to work after conducting tests upon their arrival and were sent back to their home countries. While medical tests performed overseas help reduce entry of workers with chronic or infectious diseases, such tests are not sufficient in diagnosing diseases such as cancer which require specialized tests. Further checks would increase the cost of recruiting an individual worker up to SAR60,000. He added that a second test is done after the worker’s arrival to help identify diseases not detected in prior tests.
“The measures we have taken in the past have helped reduce the number of sick workers from 25 percent a few years ago to five percent last year,” Khoja said. The rules and regulations for medical tests have been updated during a meeting of the central committee, recently held in Manama, Bahrain.