New vision needed for combating and preventing TB among migrants

May 18, 2010

Tuberculosis (TB) is an enormous global public health problem. Migration and failure by governments and the public health community to adequately treat and prevent TB among migrants is an important barrier to TB control.

To reduce the incidence, spread and severity of tuberculosis, government policies must ensure that all patients have easy access to diagnosis and treatment, according to a commentary entitled "TB on the Move" in this month's The Lancet.

Henry M. Blumberg, MD, professor of medicine (infectious diseases) at Emory University School of Medicine and Grady Memorial Hospital was lead author of the commentary in a special Lancet series on tuberculosis. Other contributors were from the WHO Collaborating Center for TB and Lung Diseases, the Care and Research Institute, Partners in Health, and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Nearly one billion people - or one in seven globally - are , say the authors, with 740 million internal migrants and 200 million international migrants. Most of the international migrants (130 million) are moving from a developing to a developed country.

"Migrants are disproportionately affected by TB, a reflection of the high rate of disease in their country of origin due to poverty and made worse by limited health-care and public health infrastructure," says the commentary.

High-income countries have a low incidence of TB, and most cases in these countries, including multi-drug resistant TB, now occur in migrants. Thus enhancing global TB control is in their self-interest and is cost-effective.

"Unfortunately, governmental public policies towards migrants have been antagonistic to TB control efforts by furthering stigma and marginalization," say the authors. Most migrants are missed by TB screening programs, leading to much worse outcomes and cure rates.

"A new vision on health and migration is necessary if we want to go beyond what (little) is done today," states the commentary. "Each country should first ensure that, everywhere, all patients with tuberculosis have easy access to diagnosis and treatment free of charge, and that undocumented migrants are not deported until completion of treatment, as stated by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and ."

This new vision must help prevent inequalities in health outcomes by increasing surveillance (with built-in confidentiality), early diagnosis and treatment, and investment in new drugs, diagnostics and a vaccine.

Finally, the authors state, "In view of globalization and migration, the mantra 'tuberculosis anywhere is everywhere' rings true."

Explore further: Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Drug-resistant tuberculosis rife in China

Dec 11, 2008

Levels of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) in China are nearly twice the global average. Nationwide research published in the open access journal BMC Infectious Diseases has shown that almost 10% of Chinese TB cases are re ...

WHO warns of drug-resistant TB

Sep 06, 2006

The World Health Organization in Switzerland has warned of a new strain of tuberculosis that is rapidly spreading and cannot be treated with current drugs.

HIV/AIDS linked to drug resistant TB

Nov 16, 2006

U.S. scientists say a highly drug-resistant form of tuberculosis has been linked to HIV/AIDS in a study conducted in rural South Africa.

Experts say Toronto unprepared for TB

Feb 24, 2008

Health experts warn there could be an outbreak of tuberculosis in Toronto, which reportedly lacks a centralized system of TB clinics.

Recommended for you

Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

1 hour ago

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban ...

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears (Update)

5 hours ago

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

Dec 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

Bacteria in caramel apples kills at least four in US

Dec 19, 2014

A listeria outbreak believed to originate from commercially packaged caramel apples has killed at least four people in the United States and sickened 28 people since November, officials said Friday.

Steroid-based treatment may answer needs of pediatric EoE patients

Dec 19, 2014

A new formulation of oral budesonide suspension, a steroid-based treatment, is safe and effective in treating pediatric patients with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), according to a new study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official clinical practice journal ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.