Image via WikipediaI 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 www.dohms.gov.ae 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...