GAMCA clinics operate by standardized guidelines set by the Gulf countries, and are the only medical facilities authorized to test and clear migrants for employment in the Gulf. Though sponsors and employers are required to pay for virtually costs relating to recruitment, migrants are often burdened with these pricey pre-departure tests themselves.
Many migrants report they receive no explanation of the tests performed on them, or even of their results. Migrants struggle to discover the veritable medical reason behind their denied entry. Extraneous screening disqualifications include non-infectious and non-medical issues; physical disabilities that pose zero threat to Gulf societies, including, diabetes, color-blindness, and deafness, render migrants ‘unfit’ by GAMCA standards. Pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, as well as active and inactive TB also disqualify migrants from medical clearance.
In particular, the GCC’s discriminatory TB policies are deficient from both a public healthy policy and rights perspective. Migrants with healed TB scars pose virtually no medical threat to public health yet are deported and prospective migrants are banned from entering Gulf states. Medical professionals and migration experts certify that GAMCA policies contradict GCC government concerns for public health. Under the repatriation policy, migrant workers are disincentivized from reporting and receiving treatment for TB. Read more about the medical inexpediency of GAMCA’s TB policies here.
According to the UN, disease-related restrictions on travel are discriminatory unless the disease in question is yellow fever (requiring a travel certificate), or in the case of an outbreak of a contagious disease such as cholera. Restrictions on travel and the liberty of movement due to healed TB cannot be justified by ambiguous “public health” concerns.
GCC medical practices also legitimize discrimination and stigma within origin-country communities. The GCC could contribute to global efforts to combat TB discrimination – which studies have proven inhibit effective treatment- rather than to perpetuate it.