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Ministry to Close Schools without Nurses

Adel Arafah / 5 October 2009

ABU DHABI — Schools will be closed if they fail to hire nurses trained to conduct screening of students for possible swine flu infection, the Minister of Education told Khaleej Times on Sunday.

Humaid Al Qattami said schools need to hire at least one medical professional to conduct early screening of suspected flu cases and administer treatment to prevent an outbreak.

“We will not tolerate any school that doesn’t hire a nurse as both the federal and local governments are doing their best.” he said. “Ignoring this critical issue by any school is tantamount to a crime that we will not accept.”

Al Qattami said the education and health ministry will conduct surprise inspections to detect erring schools and cancel their licenses immediately.

Students of violating schools will be distributed to other schools and erring schools will have to incur the moral and financial damages from their non-compliance, he said.

Some private schools in Abu Dhabi Khaleej Times visited admitted they lacked medical staff. Administrators said their attempt to hire nurses had failed as the candidates could not pass the health ministry’s stringent requirements, including a written test. 

Rahma Abdul Salaam, headmistress at one of the schools, said she had to start the year without a nurse. “Nominee nurses have failed in the professional tests,” she said, adding that most complained of how tough the tests were.

For government schools in Dubai and northern emirates, the health ministry has set a target of 170 nurses.  Private schools are responsible for hiring their own medical staff.

Some schools, like the one headed by Salaam, have trained their teachers on conducting the screening of the virus. “We have also set aside a room for isolation of suspected cases,” said Salaam.

Private education providers have requested the ministry to help them secure nurses or ease the requirements immediately.

adel@khaleejtimes.com

 
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