Qatar is going to launch mandatory pre-marriage medical tests on December 13. The much-vaunted screening, in use in all other Gulf countries, comes to Qatar after years of planning.
All nationals and expatriates getting married in the country must undergo the tests for the marriage to be legalised.
“Arrangements for launching the tests are in place. We hope the programme would be a success, since we see a rising level of awareness and acceptance in society,” Dr Ahmed Kamal Naji, Chairman of the Pre-Marital Examination Committee told The Peninsula yesterday.
The screening is aimed at preventing the spread of hereditary, genetic and communicable diseases. “Our programme stands out from that of other countries as the tests we conduct would be more elaborate. The Committee will review the programme after a year to decide whether to continue all the tests or drop some,” added Naji. In line with an Arab League recommendation, several Arab countries, including Qatar, have passed laws to implement mandatory premarital screening.
At its 23rd session for 2003, the Cabinet adopted a draft law in this respect, and called upon the Ministry of Health to develop a detailed and comprehensive study on the subject. The Emir H H Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani issued a Decree on June 29, 2006 enforcing the provisions of the Family Law No. 22 of 2006. The Decree stipulates that a separate medical certificate shall be provided by the authorities to each one of the desiring couple before certifying the marriage contract.
The solicitor shall not refrain from certifying the marriage contract as long as the two parties wish to proceed on with the marriage contract, irrespective of the results of the medical screening.
Setting the ground for implementing the Emiri Decree, the Minister of Health and Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Health H E Abdullah bin Khaled Al Qahtani recently issued a decision organising procedures pertaining to the pre-marital screening.
The inherited and contagious diseases included in the screening are: sickle cell anaemia; haemoglobin abnormalities -thalassemia et al; testing of the clotting factor to discover Haemophilia (A &B), if there is a family history or any medical indicators of the disease; syphilis, HIV (AIDS), hepatitis B & C.
The tests will be conducted at five primary health care centres: Airport, Rayyan, Gharrafa, West Bay, and Al Khor.
The Examination Committee will ensure absolute confidentiality in respect of the individuals undergoing the tests.
A special non-disclosure declaration to be signed by both parties to maintain confidentiality has been prepared.
In case of a marriage proposal between the two parties not fructifying after the medical tests have been undertaken but not complete, either party should keep to themselves any information which has come to light during the process.
In the interest of confidentiality, two separate pre-marital medical examination forms, one for each party are required to be be filled.
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