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New Zealand Government to Decline Entry to Immigrants With Costly, Contagious Diseases, Including HIV, TB

January 29, 2004

The New Zealand government on Wednesday announced that it will ban people from migrating to the country if they test positive for diseases or conditions that could be contagious or costly to treat, such as HIV or tuberculosis, the Associated Press reports. Currently, people coming into the country are asked to self-report a range of illnesses, but they are not tested for most of them. Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel said that the government later this year will require potential immigrants to be tested in their home countries for conditions such as TB, HIV, hepatitis B and "significant" kidney disease, according to the Associated Press. Beginning in March, foreign students wishing to stay in New Zealand for more than six months will be required to undergo testing, and the screening policy will apply in mid-2004 to visitors or workers wishing to stay longer than one year, Dalziel said. New Zealand's free public health system spends millions of dollars each year treating Pacific Islanders who have illnesses such as advanced heart and kidney disease and are unable to access or afford treatment in their home countries, according to the Associated Press (Lilley, Associated Press, 1/28). A review of the existing screening system, which has been in place for more than one year, "clearly" identified a need for improvement to protect the public against contagious diseases, the NZPA/New Zealand Herald reports (NZPA/New Zealand Herald, 1/28). Dalziel said, "A country is entitled in determining whether people are eligible for residence or not to undertake ... a cost-benefit analysis." The new screening policy will require a change in the nation's law, and the initiative is expected to receive widespread support from legislators, the Associated Press reports (Associated Press, 1/28).

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