Guidance

United Arab Emirates: migrant health guide

Advice and guidance on the health needs of migrant patients from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for healthcare practitioners.

Main messages

If the patient is new to the UK:

  • explain to them how the NHS works
  • discuss how this compares to the healthcare system they’ve been used to

Ensure that all patients are up-to-date with the UK immunisation schedule.

Determine any risk factors for hepatitis B infection that may indicate the need for screening. The UAE has a low prevalence.

Ask opportunistically about any travel plans the patient may have to visit friends and relatives in their country of origin, and see National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC), or the Health Protection Scotland websites (TRAVAX and fitfortravel), for travel advice.

Be advised that there is a risk of typhoid infection in the UAE.

Infectious diseases

Immunisation

Ensure that all patients, especially children, are up-to-date with the UK immunisation schedule.

Tuberculosis (TB)

There is a low incidence of TB in the UAE (<40 cases per 100,000), so:

  • routine screening is not required
  • consider testing in patients (including children) who show signs and symptoms
  • be aware that TB is a notifiable disease

Sexually transmitted infections and HIV

Take a sexual history, and:

  • screen for STIs and HIV according to risk as specified in the UK national standards and guidelines
  • test all sexually active patients under the age of 25 for chlamydia

The UAE has a low rate of HIV (≤1%), so:

  • offer and recommend an HIV test if the patient:
    • falls into a high risk group
    • is newly registering in a high prevalence area
  • be advised that national guidelines do not recommend routine consideration of HIV testing of infants and children who have recently arrived in the UK

Hepatitis B

The UAE has a low prevalence of hepatitis B, so:

  • offer screening for hepatitis B to all pregnant women during each pregnancy
  • immunise appropriately babies born to mothers who are hepatitis B positive, and follow-up accordingly
  • be aware that the UK has a selective immunisation programme for hepatitis B

Hepatitis C

The UAE has a higher prevalence of hepatitis C than the UK, so consider screening for hepatitis C if other risk factors apply.

Travel plans and advice

Ask opportunistically about any travel plans the patient may have to visit friends and relatives in their country of origin, and see National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC), or the Health Protection Scotland websites (TRAVAX and fitfortravel), for travel advice.

Typhoid

There is a risk of typhoid infection in the UAE, so:

  • ensure that travellers to the UAE are offered typhoid immunisation and advice on prevention of enteric fever
  • remember enteric fever in the differential diagnosis of illness in patients with a recent history of travel to-or-from the UAE

Women’s health

Reproductive health indicators

Reproductive health indicator UK UAE
Children per woman¹ 2 2
Breast examination or mammography² 75% 12%
Cervical cancer screening³ 70% 23%

¹lifetime average ²women aged 50 to 69 years ³women aged 20 to 69 years

No data are available on contraceptive use.

Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) has occasionally been documented in the UAE.

Nutritional and metabolic concerns

Anaemia

There is a moderate risk of anaemia in adults (estimated prevalence in non-pregnant women is 20 to 40%), and in pre-school children (estimated prevalence is 20 to 40%), in the UAE, so:

  • be alert to the possibility of anaemia in recently arrived migrants, particularly women and pre-school children
  • test as clinically indicated

Vitamin D

Consider the possibility of vitamin D deficiency in people who may be at risk due to:

  • covering their body for cultural or religious reasons (lack of sunlight)
  • skin colour
  • diet (vegan or vegetarian)

Iodine

People from the UAE may be at risk of mild iodine deficiency due to inadequate intake.

Country profile

Health indicators and health care

WHO Global Health Observatory has a summary of health indicators and health care in the UAE.

Culture, politics and history

BBC News and The World Factbook provide background information on the culture, politics and history of the UAE.

Languages

The main languages used in the UAE are:

  • Arabic (official)
  • Persian
  • English
  • Hindi
  • Urdu

Source: The World Factbook.

Religions

Religion Population (%)
Muslim¹ 76
Other² 15
Christian 9

¹Islam (official) ²primarily Hindu and Buddhist; less than 5% of the population consists of Parsi, Baha’i, Druze, Sikh, Ahmadi, Ismaili, Dawoodi Bohra Muslim and Jewish

Source: The World Factbook.

Migration to the UK

There were almost 11,000 people from the United Arab Emirates living in England and Wales at the time of the 2011 Census.

Source: Office for National Statistics © Crown Copyright 2014.

Published 31 July 2014
Last updated 18 April 2016 + show all updates
  1. Updated advice on risks of hep B and anaemia based on current prevalences in UAE.
  2. First published.