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: Research shows that bacteria survive longer in contact lens cleaning solution than thought

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

Malaysia quarantines 64 villagers over MERS virus

35 minutes ago

Malaysia has quarantined 64 people in a southern village after one of its residents become the country's first person to die of a respiratory illness that is spreading from the Middle East, local media reported Thursday.

Spate of Mideast virus infections raises concerns

1 hour ago

A recent spate of infections from a frequently deadly Middle East virus is raising new worries about efforts to contain the illness, with infectious disease experts urging greater vigilance in combatting ...

New MRSA superbug emerges in Brazil

1 hour ago

An international research team led by Cesar A. Arias, M.D., Ph.D., at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) has identified a new superbug that caused a bloodstream infection ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Spate of Mideast virus infections raises concerns

A recent spate of infections from a frequently deadly Middle East virus is raising new worries about efforts to contain the illness, with infectious disease experts urging greater vigilance in combatting ...

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

Up to now, HONO, also known as nitrous acid, was considered one of the most important sources of hydroxyl radicals (OH), which are regarded as the detergent of the atmosphere, allowing the air to clean itself. ...

Thinnest feasible nano-membrane produced

A new nano-membrane made out of the 'super material' graphene is extremely light and breathable. Not only can this open the door to a new generation of functional waterproof clothing, but also to ultra-rapid filtration. The ...

There's something ancient in the icebox

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...