Government issues TB warning for international students

Here’s the latest from Australian healthcare: The Department of Health has sketched out a tip for international students on tuberculosis (TB) screening and treatment on its website. The notice came quickly on March 22, 2022, after a worrying resurgence of tuberculosis infections in Asia-Pacific.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, tuberculosis was the world’s deadliest infectious disease, but its risks have been largely eclipsed by the coronavirus over the past two years. The disease claimed 1.5 million lives worldwide in 2020 – the first marked increase in the number of deaths in a decade, The Guardian reports.

The advisory issued by the government indicates that some international students may be at higher risk of contracting tuberculosis than locals. These include students from a country in the following regions:

  • Asia
  • Africa
  • the western pacific
  • the Indian subcontinent
  • South America
  • Eastern Europe

He assured that students will not be asked to leave the country if they are infected. Under australian health, international students can access free TB diagnostic treatment as a service, as well as medication, the statement said. International students may also be eligible for partial coverage through private healthcare under Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).

International students coming to Australia from countries with a higher risk of TB may be required to have a chest X-ray and medical examinations at a panel clinic in their home country when apply for a visa for a stay of six months or more. This is to ensure that they do not pose a health risk to others at the arrival in Australia.

Australian healthcare: Are we doing enough for students?

Following the worrying increase in regional cases of tuberculosis, there was many calls by the media and healthcare professionals to expedite Australian healthcare, especially with the dual threat of TB and COVID-19 infections.

At least two-thirds of the global TB burden is in the Asia-Pacific region, where multidrug-resistant forms of the disease are on the rise, according to Papua New Guinea, which is only a few miles from Australia, has the highest rates of drug-resistant tuberculosis in the world.

International students are among the most vulnerable groups exposed to mental health risks in Australia throughout the pandemic. Source: Said Khan/AFP

International students can receive free treatment for TB and COVID-19 for free, but accessing it can be difficult when Australia’s healthcare system is overwhelmed with critical COVID-related infections. International students at the University of Sydney were previously refused the convenience of getting vaccinated on campus, and were instead redirected to state health clinics.

A separate report said international students were among the most vulnerable and severely affected populations in Australia in terms of mental health throughout the pandemic. Students stranded offshore faced increased stress The shortcomings of distance education and uncertainty about the reopening of borders.

Those who remained in Australia struggled with feelings of isolation, anxiety and financial challenges – all of which were exacerbated by the fear of contracting a life-threatening infection. If TB reaches a worrying level, international students risk facing additional distress with inadequate support for their general well-being.