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UK docs want Indian immigrants screened for TB

world Updated: May 27, 2007 13:04 IST

PTI
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Amidst rising incidences of tuberculosis in Britain, senior doctors in London want all immigrants from the Indian sub-continent to be screened for the disease.

The doctors want the screening to also include immigrants from Africa.

The Observer reported on Sunday that two new outbreaks, in Luton and Cardiff, had prompted concern that public health officials were failing to come to grips with the disease.

Vivienne Nathanson, the British Medical Association's head of science and ethics, said the re-emergence of TB was so serious that ministers should consider the mandatory immunisation of all school children.

He added that general practitioners should offer screening to new patients who come from parts of the world where the disease is common, including eastern Europe.

Mayur Lakhani, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said, "My sense is that the health community has taken its eye off the ball a bit in relation to TB. We shouldn't think that this is a disease of the past."

Lakhani said primary care trusts, which deliver healthcare in local areas, must do more to ensure that people coming to live in Britain from high-risk countries were screened when they arrived at an airport or port or when they registered with a general practitioner. Students coming to Britain should also be tested.

Cases of TB in Britain rose by 11 percent between 2004 and 2005.