Uganda: UK Bans Visas to Ugandan TB Patients
The UK has banned the issuance of travel visas to tuberculosis (TB) patients from Uganda because of the high incidence of the disease as identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO). According to the new visa application procedures issued by the UK, Ugandan TB patients intending to stay there for more than six months will be denied visas with effect from June 30. This also applies to children above 11 years.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Kampala is currently operating a health centre, where Ugandans intending to travel and stay in Britain for over six months are being subjected to pre-entry screening. Each applicant will pay $70 for the test. Sadati Sserunjogi, a medical officer at IOM, confirmed that they were screening Ugandans for tuberculosis before allowing them to apply for the visas. "We are the ones doing the screening in Kampala," he said. A notice on the UK border agency under the Home Office website states: "From 30 June 2013, residents of Uganda, who wish to come to the UK for more than six months, must be tested for tuberculosis before applying for a visa. If you plan to come to the UK for less than six months, you do not need a TB test." Officials at the UK visa application centre in Kampala yesterday said this was one of the measures of preventing the spread, but did not state if UK was experiencing a rise in TB cases attributed to immigrants.
The officials, who requested not to be quoted as they are not authorised to speak on behalf of the UK government, said those found to be having the disease will have to be treated and be subjected to another test to show that they are free from TB before applying for the visa.
The new procedures will apply to about 100 countries, mainly in Africa. They include Rwanda, Tanzania, Sudan, Burundi and Kenya.
The procedures, issued last month apply to countries where incidence of the disease is above 40 per 100, 000 people (WHO's threshold for high incidence).
The pre-testing for the disease will go on in the affected countries for the next 12 months.
Rukia Nakamate, the health ministry spokesperson, said they were not aware that Uganda's tuberculosis incidence was alarming.
"We have just received fresh reports on all diseases and there isn't any upsurge in cases of TB," she said.
By Pascal Kwesiga