Couples who are planning to get married in the UAE have the option to undergo genetic testing as part of their mandatory premarital medical examination. The genetic test is capable of identifying over 570 genetic mutations that may lead to hereditary diseases like cardiomyopathy, genetic epilepsy, spinal muscular atrophy, hearing loss, cystic fibrosis, and other severe and chronic diseases.

Dr. Kareema Alraesi, the director of Primary Health Care Department at Emirates Health Services (EHS), emphasized that premarital medical screening is obligatory for both citizens and expatriates intending to marry in the UAE. The genetic test is provided free of charge alongside the mandatory premarital screenings and can be conducted upon the couple's request. Dr. Alraesi further explained that this test examines genetic material to identify mutations that individuals may carry without exhibiting any symptoms. Carrying these mutations, especially by both partners, increases the likelihood of their children being affected by severe, difficult-to-treat genetic diseases.

The optional service is available at three EHS health centers: Family Health Promotion Centre in Sharjah, Julphar Health Centre in Ras Al Khaimah, and AlFaseel Family Health Promotion Centre in Fujairah. Appointments for the service can be scheduled through the EHS smart app, call center, or by visiting the relevant health center directly. Test results are furnished within two weeks. If a shared genetic mutation is identified in the couple, they are provided with counseling by specialized consultants to address their queries and consider suitable options.

Dr. Essam Al Zarooni, the acting executive director of Clinical Services Sector at EHS, highlighted that genetic testing serves as a preventive measure against genetic diseases, safeguarding community members from inheriting disease-causing genes and determining the likelihood of passing them on to their children. Ultimately, it aids couples in preventing the transmission of genetic diseases to future generations.

Premarital screening, initially introduced in 2008, aims to ascertain the absence of genetic, infectious, or sexually transmitted diseases in couples. The screening encompasses tests for infectious diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis B & C, syphilis, genetic diseases like Beta-thalassemia and sickle cell anemia, and German Measles (Rubella). The report from the screening remains valid for three months.

It's important to note that the genetic test is not limited to individuals with a family history of genetic disorders. According to EHS, it also diminishes the risk of mother-to-child transmission of certain infectious diseases, potentially preventing congenital anomalies and even death. Both partners are required to collect their premarital screening reports from the same health center, and each will have a separate consultation with the doctor.