29 July 2008

Experts urge Australian Immigration to improve TB checks

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A group of researchers recently submitted a report to the Government about the rate of tuberculosis (TB) in Australian migrants and has suggested the Immigration Department’s current TB screening technique is inadequate.

The report, 'Epidemiology of laboratory confirmed tuberculosis in Victoria, 1990 to 2004', focused on all confirmed cases of TB as diagnosed by the State TB reference laboratory in Victoria.  The authors concluded that in Australia, most cases of TB occur in Australian migrants.  They also observed a shift in the cases of TB from South East Asian-born migrants to African-born migrants, which reflected changing trends in migration patterns.

The Department of Immigration makes certain that anyone wanting to move to Australia is screened for TB.  If TB is detected, the potential migrant’s application will not necessarily be rejected, but will be put on hold until the TB has been treated. 

The results of the research, according to the authors, question the adequacy of the Immigration Department’s screening techniques.  Currently, the TB control strategy relies on a chest x-ray tool, which does not detect extra-pulmonary disease or latent pulmonary infection.  The group suggested testing for latent TB or follow-up consultations will provide a more comprehensive screening measure for foreign nationals who migrate to Australia.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for an Australia visa.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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