Dubai, UAE: There has been a huge surge in patients seeking free monthly health checks by the Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD), with numbers almost doubling to around 300, PAD officials said.
It comes ahead of a planned low-cost medical clinic at PAD, with work expected to start after the first quarter of this year, officials said.
The health checks - free for all nationalities - cover basic tests for conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, among others.
Volunteer doctors across a dozen specialisations also provide free consultations, lectures and advice to patients.
Dr Ameerah Shah, general secretary of PAD’s Medical Wing, said the surge followed growing awareness about the tests held at PAD premises in Oud Metha.
The health camp takes place on the last Friday of every month, with the most recent held on January 31.
"Patients visit us with their medical reports, waiting a month to see us again. It’s good for the community, anyone can come," Dr Shah said.
"At first, it used to be Pakistani patients, but we are receiving more and more expats from other countries as well, mainly from the Philippines, India and Bangladesh."
The camp’s increasing popularity and the demand for follow-ups snowballed into the idea of making the service more permanent, in the form of a low-cost medical centre, she added.
Poor patients found after investigations to be deserving cases will not be charged, Dr Shah said.
The project, currently titled Multispeciality Medical Clinic, will be able to serve around 200 patients a day, with consultation charges expected to range between Dh25-Dh50, said Dr Shah.
"Those who can’t afford even this will get free services."
The centre will have more than 10 specialities including gynaecology, dentistry, dermatology, paediatrics and orthopaedics.
PAD General Secretary Dr Faisal Ikram — a gastroenterologist surgeon — told Gulf News funds have been secured for the project’s initial cost of Dh1.7 million.
"Right now, we’re in this phase where we’re taking licensing approvals from the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and Community Development Authority (CDA)," Dr Ikram said.
"From our end, we’re ready. As soon as we get the approvals — we expect things to start rolling by the first quarter of this year — we’ll start the work."
Dr Shah added: "After the initial financial support, the [project] will be self-sufficient. It will be not-for-profit, and obviously as per the regulations of the DHA and other authorities."
Besides the health camp at PAD, the Medical Wing also holds a similar free monthly service for labourers at their housing facilities, in collaboration with CDA.
Together, they have arranged for basic health checks for more than 2,300 labourers over the years. Patients with chronic diseases such as diabetics and hypertension are supplied a month’s worth of medicine, PAD said in a statement.
There is also an agreement expected to be signed with a clinic to provide "very low-cost" laboratory facilities for the medical camp patients. It includes a 35 per cent discount on lab tests for Pakistanis and PAD members.
The Medical Wing has organised the camps since 2009 and it also supports relief efforts following natural disasters in Pakistan.
It was formed in 2008 and represents over 500 Pakistani doctors working in UAE. The group has held over 50 camps benefiting more than 8,000 patients.
Also organised regularly are blood donation drives in association with blood transfusion services. Moreover, the Medical Wing provides DHA-accredited Continued Medical Education to doctors.
© Gulf NewsFeb 2014