Eurasia Region puts migrants and TB at the centre of ending TB efforts

08 December 2016 - Astana, Kazakhstan - The Resolution that summarizes recommendations for the migrant-specific patient-oriented approach to address TB in the Central Asian Region was adopted today at the conclusion of a two-day meeting. It brought together government officials, representatives of National TB programs, international NGOs and civil society, migration authorities and partners from the Central Asian countries of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and Armenia.

The resolution adopted is in line with the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Plan to End TB 2016-2020 to recognize that the world has a collective responsibility to protect vulnerable people from TB, to provide them with a cure and to involve them as key stakeholders in the fight against the disease and in the context of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) call to 'leave no one behind'.

The meeting was hosted by the Republic of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Health and Social Development, Project HOPE and Kazakhstan’s National Centre for TB Problems with financial support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB & Malaria and USAID. The Stop TB Partnership, WHO, IOM, IFRC, the Rutgers University Global TB Institute participated in the meeting.

Elzhan Birtanov, the Republic of Kazakhstan Vice Minister of Health and Social Development, emphasized that "the signing of the bilateral agreements is critical for effective regional cooperation in TB prevention, control and care in the Central Asian region" and praised Project HOPE and all partners for spearheading this effort.

"This meeting attests to the commitment of the Central Asian countries to collaboration in TB control not only on the regional level but also on the national level with engagement of all stakeholders: government agencies, international organizations, and the civil society. We are happy to note that as a result of this dialog, we have accomplished significant progress toward the signing of bilateral agreements, which will provide long-term mechanisms for effective cross-border TB control," noted Linda Heitzman, Project HOPE’s Executive Vice President.

Migrants carry a disproportionate burden of TB due to social and economic inequalities. The lack of information about TB and the lack of access to TB diagnosis, treatment and care make them even more vulnerable. These disparities are especially evident in TB treatment outcomes, and migrants are twice as likely as the general population to drop from treatment and suffer as a result.

During the meeting, the second Action Plan/Road Map for implementation of the Global Fund Program in Kazakhstan was developed for the next 12 months to serve as the guiding document for country-level and regional working groups.

"Without addressing TB among migrants we cannot end the TB epidemic. The needs of the migrants goes beyond medical care for TB, into complex issues, such as, legal barriers, labor laws, immigration laws, stigma and discrimination. The response to migration and TB in this Region with the involvement of multiple stakeholders looks promising as it aims for a comprehensive approach," said Dr Suvanand Sahu, Deputy Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership.