Erring centers issuing fitness certificates to expats punished

JEDDAH — Medical centers licensed to examine expatriate workers for new iqamas (residence permits) or their renewal have been found to have committed several serious violations for which they will be penalized, a senior official has said.

“Serious violations were discovered in 14 such centers of which 12 have been temporarily suspended,” Dr. Sami Badwood, director of Jeddah Health Affairs was quoted by Al-Madinah daily as saying.

The violations, he said, included errors in sorting out blood samples, lack of proper medical records, insufficient number of specialists and technicians, absence of supervisors during official working hours and lack of periodical maintenance of equipment.

Badawood also said some of the violating centers did not make a safe disposal of the medical garbage which may be infectious.

“Any violating center will be punished according to the rules. The punishment can reach up to the complete cancelation of its license,” he said.

A number of medical centers in various parts of the Kingdom have been issued licenses to conduct medical examinations of expatriate workers who wish to issue, renew or transfer their iqamas. The centers also examine the workers at the catering sections of the health institutions to issue them with fitness certificates.

Badawood said a three-member special inspection committee makes periodic inspections of the centers to make sure that they are doing their work properly. “We also make surprise raids on the centers when we receive any complaints,” he added.

He also accused the violating centers of failing to conduct comprehensive medical examinations of expatriate workers. “The centers are committed to making lab tests, X-rays and clinical examination of expatriate workers to make sure that they are not carrying any infectious diseases,” he said.

The official said any center that fails to perform any one of these tests will be penalized.

He said the centers should make thorough medical tests for the HIV on workers from 10 countries. He did not name the countries.

After carrying out field tours of a number of the medical centers in Jeddah, Al-Madinah noted that their charges differ from one area to another. It said in the north of Jeddah the charges range between SR200 and SR400, while in the south of the city, they are between SR90 and SR150.

Ali Abdullah Al-Khathami, member of the lab committee of Jeddah Health Affairs, said some medical results issued by these centers are not accurate. “This is due to the fact that the equipment is outdated or they lack proper periodical maintenance,” he said.

He also said some of the centers do not inform the concerned authorities when they discover a positive HIV case.





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