The Regional Expert Group on Migration and Health (REG) and TB Europe Coalition (TBEC) have concluded the #HealthWithoutBorder Campaign that was dedicated to World TB Day. For over a month, we have published 8 stories of people affected by tuberculosis, who were migrants in either Eastern or Western Europe. These people face many additional challenges to the already existing difficulties of treating such a complex disease.
The difficulties begin with diagnosis as Western counties have fewer cases of tuberculosis and, as a consequence, take longer to identify and diagnose TB cases, many of which are diagnosed in migrants from Eastern Europe. The correct diagnosis is often made too late when a more complicated, longer, and more expensive treatment regimen is needed. Gohar’s (Armenia), Marina’s (Ukraine) and Maria’s (Romania) stories clearly illustrate these challenges.
Another key issue migrants with TB face is getting adequate treatment for TB and eventually being cured. For example, in the Russian Federation, foreigners with tuberculosis are treated only for two weeks, until they become smear-negative. After that, they are told that to continue their treatment they need to go back to “their home country”, but not all migrants are able to leave. Hard work combined with poor living conditions means that untreated or poorly treated tuberculosis cases are likely to resurface and worsen. Our stories of Alexey from Ukraine, Atabek, and Sardar from Kyrgyzstan clearly illustrate this.
All stories of the campaign can be read here: https://www.tbcoalition.eu/news/
We would like to express our gratitude to the heroes for sharing their stories. The braveness, courage, and honesty of each one of you is truly inspiring. Your stories illustrate the many challenges migrants face when managing tuberculosis, despite the fact it is a preventable and curable disease. We appreciate that you have trusted us enough to share the truth even when it is heartbreaking. We hope that our efforts in the #HealthWithoutBorder campaign will create the change needed on TB and migrant health and end TB.