A Nigerian lady was recently detained for carrying malaria medication with her for holidays, we look at what the rules are when travelling to the United Arab Emirates
A Nigerian lady, name's withheld (Lets call her Mrs A.), was a few days ago detained in Dubai after she was held for carrying malaria medications through customs for her one week stay in the country. She was detained at the airport for two days till her flight out.
The story has highlighted the need for extra vigilance when travelling to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with prescription drugs.
What drug was Mrs A. carrying?
Mrs A. had carried malaria medication with her
Why was she detained?
Mrs A. said she had 2 tablets of malaria medication with her (which were her last of the prescription drugs to be taken)
Is the UAE strict when it comes to prescription drugs?
The everyday medicines that could get you jailed in a foreign country
The UAE has a very strict, zero-tolerance anti-drugs policy and conducts thorough searches at its airports using highly sensitive equipment.
“There is zero tolerance for drugs-related offences,” states the Foreign Office in its UAE advice. “Possession of even the smallest amount of illegal drugs can lead to a minimum four-year jail sentence.”
Some drugs and medications that may be purchased over-the-counter in other countries are classified as controlled substances in the UAE and are illegal to possess.
The UAE embassy advice says: “Individuals may bring medicine into the country for their personal use. Up to three months’ supply of a prescription item can be brought into the country by a visitor and 12 months’ supply by a resident if they can produce a doctor’s letter or a copy of the original prescription.”
It adds: “Visitors must take care to ensure that medicines and medications prescribed in their home countries are not restricted before travelling to the UAE.”
Which prescription medications are illegal in the UAE?
Visitors are advised to contact the Ministry of Health drug control department to check whether their medication is on the controlled list and needs prior permission to be brought into the country.
The UAE Ministry of Health lists all unauthorised medicines
on its website, with 71 currently prohibited. If you’re visiting the UAE, it’s best to check any medication you plan to take against this list; medications which are completely legal in the UK, such as painkillers containing codeine, can get you arrested and convicted when travelling through customs there. For example, Exedrin Tension Headache Tablets, Tylenol Arthritis Pain Caplets, Niquitin Mint Lozenges and Otrivin Nasal Spray are all on the banned list.
How the UAE has taken on malaria
The country is a major contributor in the continuing fight to make malaria history through the global Roll Back Malaria initiative and the contributions of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed
The UAE was certified to be malaria-free in January 2007 but cases continued to be recorded here. Nearly 5,000 people were treated for malaria in 2016, health officials say. They were infected on visits home or travelling in countries and regions where the disease is still endemic, and still kills large numbers of people.
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