The Public Health Ministry has warned employers about the danger
of bringing more tuberculosis to Thailand through foreign
labourers - with Burmese workers being the most serious risk
The ministry checked about 450,000 legal migrant workers last
year and found that about 3,500 had symptoms suggesting they had
Most were Burmese nationals and ethnic minorities, and 527 were
sent back home because their condition was serious.
Public Health permanent secretary Vallop Thaineua said the
ministry was stepping up efforts to control TB in the three
provinces most at risk - Tak, Samut Sakhon and Bangkok.
The return of TB has been reported in several countries,
including Thailand. The disease has spread here because foreign
workers turn up infected with it. It spreads easily to Aids
victims, because they have a weakened immune system.
Thailand's ratio of TB patients is 70 people per 100,000 a year,
while the ratio for migrant workers stands at 330 per 100,000.
NGOs and social workers estimate that Thailand has several
million foreign workers, including those who illegally enter the
Dr Vallop said the number of illegal workers could compound the
"If employers do not organise health checks for them, it could
spread to Thais," he said. Also at risk were medical staff
treating TB patients.
Charal Trinvuthipong, director-general of the Disease Control
Department, said the only way to eradicate TB was to take
patients immediately to hospital.
The extensive treatment took about six months and patients had to
strictly follow a schedule of medicines prescribed by doctors.
Health officials yesterday launched a campaign in Tak to promote
public awareness on the rising incidence of TB and its danger.
The launch was backed by employers, traders, volunteers and the
World Health Organisation's border office. It was arranged to
mark World Tuberculosis Day today.
The main focus will be on Mae Sot, Mae Ramat, Tha Song Yang, Phop
Phra and Umphang, which are the districts bordering western
Two mobile X-ray units would be used in the campaign and children
under six would be vaccinated against TB, Dr Vallop said.