The challenge of migration and tuberculosis in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Tuberculosis (TB) continues to pose a serious threat to the health of individuals and public health in the European region. TB is estimated to cause more than 40 new cases and 4 deaths every hour in our region. Even though much work has already been done, progress is still needed to achieve timely prevention, diagnosis and adequate treatment. In Eastern Europe and Central Asian countries, labour migrants arriving specially to Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are facing great difficulties in accessing quality health services, including TB services.

Symposium: New Treatments and Approaches to Tuberculosis

WHO was invited to participate in the fourth Tuberculosis Symposium for Central Asia and Eastern Europe organized by the Ministry of Health of Armenia and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on 17-18 February 2015 in Yerevan, Armenia. More than a hundred participants from countries of Eastern Europe, MSF, WHO and other partners participated in this two-day event to share the latest information and developments in the fight against TB.

WHO staff from the Global TB Programme in headquarters, the Joint Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis Programme at the WHO Regional Office for Europe in Copenhagen and the ‘Public Health Aspects of Migration in Europe’ (PHAME) project based at the WHO Office in Venice delivered presentations and actively participated in the panel discussions. For the first time in such type of symposia, a special section was dedicated to migration and its impact in public health and TB control. The minimum package for cross-border TB control and care was presented, along with a new electronic platform to facilitate cross-border TB case management across countries.

With a more general perspective, WHO Regional Office for Europe presented its work on public health and migration across the region addressing the different but interconnected sub-regional dimensions such as undocumented migration arriving mainly to Southern European countries, asylum seekers and refugees reaching Northern Member States and labour migration increasing in the Eastern part of the region. Countries’ priorities and specificities are being mapped out throughout the region, with the aim to develop a common approach and understanding of migrants’ health and the public health implications of migration.