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29.10.2008 Health

Irregular migrants to be screened

By gna

The Western Regional Directorate of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) is to screen irregular migrants for HIV/AIDS and other diseases, Dr Linda Vanotoo, the Regional Director of Health, announced on Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference at Takoradi, she said the programme would start in the Shama District with free counselling and testing for migrants to know their HIV status on October 30 this year.

Dr Vanotoo said those who test positive would be introduced to clinic to access care and also join groups to receive support and screening for tuberculosis.

She said the screening programme would help reduce the spread of diseases as irregular migrants are prone to diseases including HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis A and B, and Tuberculosis.

Dr Vanotoo said irregular migration could be self-imposed, smuggled or trafficked and the health of the migrant could be affected by the host as well as the destination country health structures and systems.

She said health risks are assumed by the individual during the pre-journey, migratory and arrival phases.

Dr Vanotoo said there are no records of people who have returned to the country from irregular migration and the diseases they brought along.

She said there were also no records of proportion of diseases attributed to migration and no system was in place to cater for their specific needs on their return to the region.

Dr Vanotoo said the screening programme forms part of the GHS collaboration with the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) to highlight the health hazards of irregular migration, provide health information and service to the returning migrant and allocate space and human resources for HIV/AIDS voluntary counselling and testing.

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