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Scientists indignant at UK visa denials for African, Asian researchers

LONDON, (Reuters) – Scientists in Britain expressed concern on Thursday after at the very least 17 delegates from Africa and Asia desirous to attend a well being conference in London have been denied visas.

Ebola virus discoverer Peter Piot addresses a news conference on the United Nations after an off-the-cuff session on the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva October 7, 2014. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Peter Piot, a Belgian-born microbiologist who was a part of a workforce that found the Ebola virus within the 1970s and is now director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, was amongst these protesting towards restrictive standards for granting short-term business visas.

In a letter to the inside minister, Sajid Javid, Piot mentioned the restrictions “represent a significant threat” to the United Kingdom establishing itself as a global well being and science hub when it needs to be displaying it’s “open for business”.

The 17 African and Asian delegates had wished to attend a two-day Women Leaders in Global Health conference, exploring gender stability in global public well being.

“This conference is a forum to promote international debate and to nurture new talent,” Piot mentioned within the letter, a replica of which was posted on his establishment’s web site.

“The denial of these visas not only excludes experts and emerging experts from low- and middle-income countries from participating in these global dialogues around health and health equity but it also precludes the UK from benefiting from this important knowledge exchange.”

The conference has attracted round 900 folks from 70 or extra international locations. Among delegates because of attend are Britain’s chief medical officer Sally Davies and Soumya Swaminathan, a World Health Organization deputy director basic.

“All UK visa applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with UK immigration rules and guidance,” an inside ministry spokesman mentioned in an announcement. “The onus is on the applicant to demonstrate that they satisfy the immigration rules.”

He mentioned the ministry would reply to Piot as soon as it had obtained his letter.

Piot mentioned the restrictive visa guidelines “can only deter organizations from holding future conferences in the UK”. He mentioned his personal faculty, a world-renowned scientific and global well being establishment, “is considering moving the locations of many of our large international meetings to outside of the UK so that valued global experts can participate more easily.”

Other main scientists echoed Piot’s issues.

“If we want to continue producing the best science, producing discoveries that will improve all our lives, we need to make it easier, not harder, for researchers to travel and collaborate across borders,” mentioned Beth Thompson, head of UK and European Union coverage on the Wellcome Trust well being charity.

Research carried out by the Wellcome and printed in September found third of African and Asian researchers searching for visas for brief time period visits to Britain had encountered issues.

Additional reporting by Mike Holden; Editing by Janet Lawrence

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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