Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (31)

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

145 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the percentage take up rate of health screening by asylum seekers; and if he has satisfied himself with this scheme and in particular that the follow-up screening is operating effectively. [1538/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

Screening in respect of specific infectious diseases has been offered to asylum seekers on a voluntary and confidential basis, free of charge, shortly after their arrival in this country since May 2000. The purpose of screening is to detect and treat certain infectious diseases in the interests of the asylum seekers themselves and their families as well as the community in general.

Initial screening usually takes place in Dublin where asylum seekers may reside following arrival in this country and continues when they are relocated to other health board regions. Those who do not receive screening in Dublin are offered this service following relocation. The guidelines in relation to infectious disease screening recommend screening is provided for the following: TB, hepatitis B, and where appropriate for polio and varicella zoster. HIV testing is also offered.

The following table sets out the percentage uptake of health screening by asylum seekers in the year 2003.

Health Board-Authority

Percentage of asylum seekers who accepted health screening

%

Eastern Regional Health Authority

73

Midland Health Board

72

Mid-Western Health Board

55

North Eastern Health Board*

North Western Health Board*

South Eastern Health Board

51

Southern Health Board

62.5

Western Health Board*

*The North Eastern Health Board, the North Western Health Board and the Western Health Board are not in a position to supply complete details of asylum seekers who accepted health screening in their regions at this time. This information will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it is received.

Operational responsibility for the health screening for asylum seekers lies with the individual health boards, which have appropriate regional and local management structures in place to manage delivery of the health screening programme.