Thursday, 14 May 2009

UAE Health Test

Plunge dipping sheepImage via Wikipedia

I did my health test. It’s got to be my top ‘most dehumanising expat experience’, shuffling around trying to find out what to do next in the warm, fuggy semi-portakabin rooms of the laughingly named Satwa Health Clinic, clasping my piece of paperwork and my passport and waiting for the inevitable grunting electric-chair-arm-strap experience to be followed by a nasty little blue-purple spreading bruise.

When I first did a health test here, they actually tested my health. Now it’s just a blood test for HIV antigens. It even says so on the label of the sample bottle they give you to clutch as you hop from warm seat to warm seat in the great Waiting Caterpillar Game. Just before you do the clutch cotton wool to your inner elbow by giving the international ‘Wooargh, wouldn’t you like to give ‘er one, eh?’ thing.

The nice security chap at the health centre, responding to my confused “What do I do?” question as there’s, as usual, no signage, information or any other hint as to what is expected of one, sent me to the typing centre where for a mere 20Dhs a chap in a hat typed my application for me. Then I went back to the health centre and paid my 260Dhs for the test. You can pay more these days if you want a fast result, including a 1-hour 'VIP' service.

I was amazed at how analogue the whole process still was until, waiting for my name to be called out by a Bangladeshi robot tannoy announcer, I noticed a line on the form, “Thank you for using DOHMS online medical fitness request service”.

I checked online when I got back to the office and, sure enough, the cheeky sods in the typing centre had charged me 20Dhs for the pleasure of typing an online form for me!

It’s simple, peeps – you got to and register for a ‘temporary health card number’ and then use that to fill out the health test form and print it out – you can also pay online for the service fees.

The site’s basic and could be more flexible (for instance, no option to edit your profile information once it’s entered) but it seems to work just fine. Why the staff at the health centre don’t tell you it’s online, I don’t know.

The actual, on the day experience is still awful, of course. But now you know. I paid 20Dhs so you won’t have to...

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the real nick said...

We are eternally grateful!

Keefieboy said...

Another thing I miss about the Emirates. My first health test was at Kuwaiti Hospital, and that was an absolute nightmare. Subsequently I used Jebel Ali Clinic and the Iranian Hospital. Both fairly civilized.

alexander... said...

Irani hospital no longer doey doey health test, Keefie!

The world's changing now you've left!

Anonymous said...

If I saw you at the health centre, it would be a welcome distraction.


(Don't ask why I can't sign in - TRA has a branch in London, obviously, and youtube/blogger etc are all blocked!)

Btw, Dubai sucks

Bush Mechanic said...

Jebel Ali Clinic is off the list as well.

Abid said...

Interesting.... Another expat, Sydney, from ( found the experience to be both quick and painless....

She said...

Snap! Went for mine during the week in Al Baraha Hospital . But for some reason - I didnt need a chest x-ray for TB! The doctor said , ( and I quote) " you're ok , you don't have TB I'm sure!"
Did you have to get one , or have MOH really invented a way of ruling out TB by sight alone?

alexander... said...

Abid, that's not quite the reality, is it? Sydney avoided the "hundreds of men" by a) going in the women's queue b) paying Dhs100 for 'fast service' which I wasn't offered.

She does make the point that this avoided the unpleasantness:

"After figuring out there was a “fast” route, we were out of there in less than ten minutes. I feel bad for all of the people who are probably still waiting, hours later, who cannot afford the 100 Dirham to get the heck out. I already have a three-inch bruise from the draw though"

Her post is here:

BTW I, too, now have a massive bruise from the blood sample, which the American Hospital blood tests I do every 2 years don't leave.

Is that right?

samuraisam said...

I got mine done a few months ago at Iranian hospital (kind of in disbelief they don't do it anymore as it seemed very organized)

I used to get it done at the medserve clinic on the beach road because I could take as long as I wanted and no one would complain, unfortunately they don't exist any more.

As a kind person I warned the staff that I have a severe problem with needles. Of course in Dubai the first response anyone gives you to this is "you are not a man!".

It took me a few hours to get it done. About all of 30 seconds to get everything done and then a good hour or two trying to calm down enough to let someone stab me and steal my DNA...

They strapped my arm to get the veins pumping, and I was all ready when they called some fking security guard over to try and hold me down! So I had to wait for my arm to calm down again and then I finally got the needle in.

Ahh... what fun. The kind nurse eventually got the needle in me, she told me that it was "all done"
So I open my eyes and see the needle sticking in my arm and blood going into the tube at which point I flipped out even more!
At this point she told me to "shut up!"

Ahh... I do not like needles.

Anonymous said...

The last person to use the online form, that I heard of, was sent from health centre to health centre because no one knew what the hell that online form thingy was.

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