Migration Health

Healthy Migrants in Healthy Communities

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UK TB Detection Programme

Key Objective

The key objective is to address public health concerns on the spread of infectious tuberculosis in the United Kingdom (UK) by screening visa applicants and facilitating access to diagnostics and treatment in their countries of origin.

People from selected countries, who are applying for a United Kingdom visa for a stay longer than 6 months for the purposes of education, employment, etc. are required to undergo tuberculosis screening in order to be issued a certificate demonstrating that they are free from the disease.

The United Kingdom Pre-Departure Tuberculosis Detection Programme started in October 2005 and currently involves 40 countries of origin, namely:  Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Belarus, Botswana, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, Viet Nam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Annually, some 110,000 persons are screened for active tuberculosis.

Beneficiaries

  • UK visa applicants
  • Receiving communities in the UK
  • Countries of origin

Concrete Benefits

  • UK visa applicants suffering from infectious tuberculosis will be diagnosed early and will be referred for treatment to a local clinic
  • For communities in the UK, the risk of contracting infectious tuberculosis from newly arrived migrants is minimized
  • The programme will provide information on tuberculosis among travelers to the UK, enabling the UK government to better understand the problem and create effective health policies to address it.
  • Countries of origin will benefit from the sharing of best practices on tuberculosis testing in local clinics, as well as from the latest data on infection rates for their public health programmes.

Project Description

All migrants from the project countries intending to apply for a United Kingdom visa that will allow them to stay for longer than 6 months will need to undergo pre-departure testing for tuberculosis in order to be issued a certificate to show that they do not have infectious tuberculosis. The certificate will allow them to apply for a visa.

The initial phase commenced in October 2005 and was piloted in 2006 in five countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sudan, Tanzania and Thailand. Within the first quarter of 2007, three additional countries – Ghana, Kenya and Pakistan – started the screening. In April 2009, comprehensive bacteriology screening which includes TB culture was implemented for all applicants with significant x-ray results suggestive of TB. Those countries of origin included in the initial phase were considered as 'high risk' being listed by the World Health Organization as having high burden of tuberculosis (Global Tuberculosis Control, WHO Report 2009). The programme was expanded to include 22 more countries in 2013 and 10 more countries in 2014.

Principal IOM Activities

  • Examine all applicants for infectious pulmonary tuberculosis, in accordance with the Protocol established by the UK Department of Health. In some cases, testing may be done by third parties as arranged by IOM
  • Issue certificates to those applicants whose assessment results are negative
  • Refer applicants with infectious tuberculosis for treatment to national institutes applying World Health Organization tuberculosis treatment standards. Alternatively, IOM may provide tuberculosis treatment according to the said standards. Tuberculosis treatment shall be at the applicant’s own cost
  • Adhere to quality assurance and quality control principles throughout the tuberculosis detection process, issuance of the certificates and tuberculosis treatment when provided by IOM
  • Set up and maintain a central database that will keep records of all applicants undergoing testing. UK officials will be given access to the database to verify certificate issuance, and evaluate the Programme
  • Provide the UK Department of Health with data and reports enabling Programme evaluation.