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Get medical advice before travelling: Dubai health experts

Traveller’s Clinic is first to serve travellers coming to or transiting through Dubai

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: If you travel without taking proper medical advice, you may not be permitted to land in certain foreign countries, a senior medical official has warned. The reason is simple — travellers are not permitted to enter certain countries without vaccination against certain diseases as per International Health Regulations (IHR) being regularly issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the official told Gulf News yesterday.

For example, people who have not taken a vaccination against yellow fever are not allowed to enter many African countries, Dr Fatima Al Attar, Consultant Family Physician, Head, Preventative Services, Dubai Health Authority, said.

WHO updates such regulations regularly so it is best for travellers to get advice from authorities before travelling, she said.

A latest regulation stipulates that all African residents in the UAE travelling to Far East nations must take vaccination against yellow fever, the doctor said.

She spoke to Gulf News on the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi Medical Congress and Exhibition yesterday (Monday).

The DHA established The Traveller’s Clinic in 2009 for this purpose and the number of travellers visiting the clinic is increasing every year, Dr Fatima said.

A total of 17,230 travellers visited the clinic prior to their travels in 2012 and 67 per cent of them were between 15-45 years of age, she said. “This growing numbers show that awareness about medical advice for travel is increasing in the UAE.”

The Traveller’s Clinic has two branches in Mankhool and Al Barsha in Dubai. Considering the increasing demand for the service, more branches will be opened in Dubai next year, Dr Fatima said.

The clinic is the first of its kind in the region to serve travellers coming to or transiting through Dubai or residents of Dubai travelling elsewhere. The aim is to ensure a healthy and safe journey for all travellers from Dubai to any destination around the world.

Approximately 4.2 million global travellers pass through Dubai airport on a monthly basis.

All travellers should seek medical advice four to six weeks before the trip because certain vaccinations need time to be effective , Dr Fatima said.

The Traveller’s Clinic makes risk-based assessment as per the traveller’s itinerary.

The doctor advised that children and the elderly must take medical advice as they are vulnerable to many medical problems during travelling.

Dr Fatima will speak on Travel Medicine in the Middle East at the Family Medicine Conference today (Tuesday), the closing day of the Abu Dhabi Medical Congress and Exhibition, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.