New Zealand doctors worried about relaxed health screening visa requirements
10 April 2012
medical experts warned that once authorities relax the health screening requirements for international students, it could lead to people infected with HIV and hepatitis being granted visas to study there.
From July 2012, New Zealand student visa applicants will be screened only for tuberculosis, unless they have other health conditions they declare. Therefore, foreign students will no longer need to supply full medicals and the responsibility will rest on visa applicants to declare their health conditions rather than on medical checks to detect diseases.
New Zealand Medical Association chairman Dr Paul Ockelford claimed that if full medical checks were not required then New Zealand could see more people with infections, such as HIV and hepatitis B and C, being let into the country.
"It's always a balance between the benefits associated with streamlining and the potential risks that might occur in the absence of formal health screening," Ockelford said.
Health screenings for student visa applicants can be costly, usually ranging in price from $250 and $400 in New Zealand.
An Immigration New Zealand spokeswoman said the changes "do not diminish an applicant's requirement to declare health conditions or meet health conditions".
Immigration Minister Nathan Guy announced on 2 April that health checks for international students immigrating to study in New Zealand would be relaxed later this year.
"These changes show that the government is serious about tackling red tape and attracting migrants who can make a contribution to New Zealand. At the same time, we are making sure that applicants have an acceptable standard of health," said Guy.
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