Poland unites to end tuberculosis (TB)

On 24 March 2016, Poland celebrated World TB Day with a conference reporting the country's progress in the last 10 years, including an almost 30% decline in the TB incidence rate to 17.4 per 100 000 population. In 2014, only 6698 new TB cases were registered, which is 500 less than in 2013.

The conference was organized by the National Institute of TB and Lung Diseases in Warsaw, and the Polish Respiratory Society. Participants were key stakeholders involved in surveillance and control of TB in the country, as well as practitioners involved in the everyday work of treating patients with this disease.

The picture of TB in Poland has remained the same for many years: middle-aged and older men comprise the main group of people with TB. Fewer cases are diagnosed among children and adolescents, and those who are HIV positive.

Migrants at risk

The conference focused on multidrug-resistant TB and TB control among migrants, including a special session on epidemiology, diagnosis and treatment.

Dr Paulina Miskiewicz, Head of the WHO Country Office in Poland, underlined that the risk that migrants and refugees will be infected or develop TB depends on several factors, including the TB rates in the country of origin. She emphasized that universal health coverage should be ensured not only for the resident population but also for refugees and migrants.

WHO recommends that TB screening be targeted to those at greatest risk. Among refugees and migrants, those at highest risk are people who come from countries with many new TB cases, or who have been living or travelling in precarious situations and may have been exposed to TB infection.