Victims of GAMCA (Gulf Medical Association) practices refuse to be silenced. Migrant Rights recently featured the struggles of Ana and Mark, once hopeful migrant workers whose debilitating experiences with GAMCA’s discriminatory Tuberculosis (TB) policies prompted them to share their stories. Despite the fact that both individuals were cured of TB and posed absolutely no medical risk, they were banned from the Gulf, forced to suffer personal and economic setbacks because of GAMCA’s highly contested, outdated practices.
Raju Chandra, a senior account from India, experienced nearly the same emotional unsettlement as our previous contributors. Like Mark, Chandra was offered a job in the Gulf, complete with an employment contract. But before he could move to Doha for work, he needed to submit a medical certificate from GAMCA in order to apply for a visa. Raju had long completed all pertinent medical procedures to cure his TB. A scar represented the only remnant of his inactive TB, posing zero health risk either to himself or others.
But when Raju discussed his history of TB with a manager of the local GAMCA centre, he was informed that a medical exam would determine him unfit, and that he would banned from travel to any gulf country indefinitely. Raju’s options weren’t just limited - they were utterly castrated. His response reflects the psychological strain unfair GAMCA policies have on prospective migrant workers:
"After thinking for hours I decided not to attempt the exam because eventually I was certain to be stamped UNFIT by the centre, it was like deliberately jumping into a well and commit suicide .I really felt quite shattered and unfortunate not to work in any Gulf country and giving my family a better living. My place of Birth is Kuwait & had my basic education there untill the gulf war in 1991 & returned to India sine then I have visited no Gulf country as yet.I never ever thought that such a disease would hinder my progress in life."
Chandra continues to receive offers from the Gulf. But once employers hear of his past condition, he never hears from them again. Chandra’s high demand demonstrates that the Gulf is losing an asset - a skilled, white collar worker - for no logical reason. A glass ceiling was forced onto Raju and countless others entirely capable and fit to work in the Gulf’s higher paying economy. GAMCA’s policies hinder the mutually beneficial relationship that should exist between migrant workers and their host countries.
Like others, Chandra questions the rationality of the Gulf’s exams:
"I felt such discriminative policies are in neither’s interest. For instance there are these same gulf countries who offer visit visas to any one regardless of their health condition, They don’t even conduct medical check ups for individuals before departure, what if a person has TB or for the matter any other infectious disease and travels to these countries on a visit Visa, he starts infecting people right from boarding the plane then he infects people in these countries and eventually after spending months there with the infection, with no medical check ups there the individual lands back safely to the home country. Now what do you call this? Is this not discrimination then what [is it]?"
Chandra urges Gulf countries to enforce policies similar to Western countries, which treat TB vigilantly, yet humanely. Policies of the Unites States and the United Kingdom include pre-departure screenings that confirm a traveler’s TB is inactive. Individuals are then granted entrance into the country.
Raju’s departing words summarize the issue at hand and urges change:
Every country has the right to protect their citizens from such diseases but with a rational attitude. These inhumane policies of Gulf countries are simply a violation of human rights.
I ask others to stand for this cause and keep opposing these policies unless they alter them.
You can help Raju and others by signing the petition at stopGAMCA.org