Importing Disease: How Third World Immigration Is Bringing Back TB to BritainThe current tuberculosis screening system for immigrants into Britain does not work and is exposing the indigenous population to thousands of infected persons from Third World nations with 70 percent of all new cases attributable to immigrants.
This is the conclusion which can be drawn from an article in the latest edition of the British Medical Association’s respiratory health journal, Thorax.
Around 8,500 cases of active disease are diagnosed annually in the UK, [of which] more than 70 percent of which are in people born elsewhere,” the article,
Rethinking TB screening: politics, practicalities and the press, authored by specialists Dr John Moore-Gillon and Professors Peter Davies and Peter Ormero, said.
The authors also revealed that the state’s ‘Port of Arrival Scheme’ which has operated since 1971, has failed.
This scheme focuses on those wishing to stay in the UK for at least six months and arriving from countries with high rates of TB (classed as more than 40 cases per 100,000 of the population).
"Clearly, current methods of TB screening for new entrants...are not working," they continue, adding that the reason for the system’s failure is because there are no standard criteria for who is offered screening and there is often no way of checking whether the subjects actually turn up to a local clinic as instructed.
“Furthermore, a TB screen is triggered only by migration status, not by arrival from a high risk country,” the article continues.
“And the screen is geared towards picking up active infection, yet it is
estimated that a third of the global population has latent TB infection.
More incredibly, the screen is also designed to uncover respiratory TB, yet TB in other sites of the body, such as the spine, gut, kidneys and brain, accounts for almost half (44 percent) of cases in new arrivals.
The authors suggest that the “best option would be for recently arrived immigrants from high risk countries to be screened in community services,” though, they add, “such services are currently overstretched due to increased demand.”
The doctors finally pose the question if the “time has come for new arrivals to be granted a residency permit only on condition they register with a GP for a TB test, as is the case in the Netherlands and Norway.”
Figures for 2008 show that the largest number of new TB cases and deaths occurred in the south-east Asia region, while sub-Saharan Africa had a particularly high incidence rate.
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