From: Number 79 – April, 1996 – Canadian Immigration Hotline

Asian imigrants will likely face tougher medical screening in response to dire warnings that tuberculosis in their home countries is reaching epidemic proportions. Federal health authorities are proposing that Asian immigrants to Canada undergo a skin test in addition to x-ray tests to reduce the spread of the respiratory disease.

The World Health Organization said this week TB is now killing more people than at any other time in history. TB infects one person every second and kills nearly three million people annually, due mainly to growing numbers of persons developing forms of the disease that are resistant to drugs and incurable.

WHO estimates 1.9-billion people, about one third of the world’s population, are infected with either latent or active TB. … WHO singled out Asia as a “time bomb waiting to explode” because two-thirds of its population is infected, many with incurable strains of the disease. TB could escalate in B.C. because up to 80 per cent of the province’s immigrants are Asian. “Their problem will eventually become our problem because that’s where our immigrants come from,” said Kevin Elwood, provincial director of TB control at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. …

According to Statistics Canada, immigrants accounted for more than half of all TB cases in Canada in 1994. … Of the drug resistant cases, most have been in people who immigrated here from Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, mainland China and India, Elwood said, adding that immigrants are screened for the disease but still allowed to land in Canada with inactive forms of tuberculosis because inactive forms do not always result in full-blown TB.

However, Elwood said once immigrants have inactive forms, they often come down with TB once they are here! (Vancouver Sun, March 23, 1996)

You can reach the Canada first Immigration Reform Committee at:

P.O. Box 332
Station ‘B’
Etobicoke, Ontario