One in ten of the UAE’s labourers suffering from undetected illness

Free medical check-up by AOL Foundation and Ahalia Hospital at an Abu Dhabi labour camp reveals shocking statistics

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By  Rhys Jones Published  June 12, 2004

Up to one in ten of the UAE’s construction workers could be suffering from an undetected illness according to the results of a free medical check-up held at an Abu Dhabi labour camp last week. 10% of the 700 labourers who participated suffered from undetected diabetes while other common ailments included high blood pressure, fungal infections, allergies, skin rashes and dehydration. The medical camp was held by the Abu Dhabi Art of Living (AOL) Foundation and a team of 12 doctors from Abu Dhabi’s Ahalia Hospital at the Al Meraikhi labour camp in Mussafah. A team of doctors, including general practitioners, dermatologists, orthodontists, dentists, ENT specialists and pathologists volunteered their services for the project aimed at creating a better health awareness among the labourers. “We usually do these camps in May and June so we can warn the labourers about the health risks they will face during the summer months,” said Dr. Veena Pramod, one of the GP’s from Ahalia Hospial that took part in the medical camp. “Dangers in the summer include dehydration and skin rashes, we tell them [workers] to take on fluids, to bathe and to powder rashes,” she added. Widespread cases of serious illnesses such as diabetes have been accentuated by the fact that construction workers are unable to afford medical treatment even though they are suffering the effects of the ailment. However, the doctors from Ahalia Hospital are sometimes able to provide free medicine samples at the medical camps. “About one in ten workers had undetected diabetes cases because the cost of medication is so high they [labourers] don’t go to hospital even though they have the symptoms,” said Pramod. “We start collecting samples of medicine early on before the camps and we get in touch with medical companies and arrange to get free samples to give to workers.” Doctors at the Al Meraikhi labour camp also noted that many of the construction workers were suffering from stress related pains and illnesses brought about by exhaustion and worry. Furthermore, many workers have started to drink alcohol and smoke to deal with it. “Most workers have stress-related problems and back and body pains because they miss their families, have financial burdens and work very long hours,” explained Pramod. “Many turn to alcohol and smoking because of this but we try and teach them breathing techniques and advise them how to lead a more healthy lifestyle,” she added.

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