Tuesday 20th April 2021, 14:00 – 15:30 CEST 

TB Europe Coalition (TBEC) and the Regional Expert Group on Migration and Health (REG) are coordinating a series of 3 webinars on TB and migrant health. The webinars will address the barriers migrants face when accessing TB and healthcare services across the WHO Europe region and the challenges for service delivery. The second webinar will focus on a Western European and EU Member State context. 

Internal and international migration are both very common today; in particular, the rate of migration has drastically increased in the past 10 years in the WHO Europe region which is host to over 72.5 million migrants and represents 8.7 per cent of the total population. 

In Europe and Central Asia migrants represent one of the key groups vulnerable to TB, as well as other infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. Migrants face many barriers to accessing adequate healthcare services, both during migration and once they have arrived in a host country. This includes, but is not limited to, language barriers, cultural barriers, stigma and discrimination as well as poverty, which can have a significant impact on their physical and mental health and wellbeing. Female migrants are particularly vulnerable to specific health challenges such as gender-based violence and reproductive and sexual health issues.

Furthermore, the challenges many migrants face while in transit increase their vulnerability to ill health. This is particularly true for those who migrate involuntarily, fleeing natural or man-made disasters. In much of the region, the response to migrant health needs has not been appropriately incorporated in the design and delivery of health and wellbeing services in the host country.

Promoting the rights of migrants is key to achieving Sustainable Development Goals, and ensuring that “no one is left behind” irrespective of their migration status. Migration issues are cross-cutting; economic and social policies, human rights and equity issues, development agendas, and social norms are all relevant to migration health. Therefore, it is essential that any policies aimed at addressing the needs of migrant communities are multisectoral. 

We hope these webinars will present an opportunity to discuss the range of challenges faced by migrants in accessing health services, to help inform evidence-based advocacy and increase the engagement of CSOs in the decision making process regarding migration and health policies in the EU and ECCA regions. 

Currently, the EU and EEA are home to over 10% of the world’s refugee population. The main drivers of this migration to the EU are conflict, political and/or economic instability, and climate change. The EU is also host to 33 million labour migrants who account for 17% of the EU’s labour force. 

Many migrants are fleeing countries with damaged and under-resourced healthcare systems and continue to face health challenges and often abuse when they undertake the long exhausting journeys to their host country, further increasing their vulnerability to ill-health. Once they arrive in their host country, they face additional challenges to accessing adequate healthcare services. 

Within the EU and EEA, migrant populations have the highest burden of TB and account for around 35% of TB infections within the region, ranging from less than 5% in Romania to over 80% in Sweden. European countries should therefore ensure universal health coverage for migrants, particularly irregular migrants, and a minimum package of cross-border TB control and care interventions including early diagnosis of TB and effective care for the duration of the treatment course. This is vital not only to respect human rights but also to reduce the burden of TB and contributing to the elimination of TB in the WHO region.  

The coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated many of the challenges faced by migrants, including difficulties entering or leaving the EU, violence at the border point, worsening conditions in the host countries and loss of income due to lockdowns. Therefore, the EU and member states should intensify efforts to establish an effective humanitarian and safe European migration policy in order to ensure the rights of migrants are respected.  

The purpose of this webinar is to discuss policies put in place to address migrant health and TB; what challenges are faced by migrants in the EU in relation to health? What kind of support is available to migrants? How COVID-19 has affected health services delivery for migrants’ health? 

The webinar will take place in Russian and English, with simultaneous translation.

Registration: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_uk5O4JJHRve5m_s3411QTw 

Agenda:

  1. Introduction (Paul Sommerfeld, TBEC Chair)
  2. ECDC data and guidance on migrant health and infectious diseases (Teymur Noori, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) 
  3. Hostile Europe: TB, migration & access to healthcare (Jessica Porter, TBNET)
  4. Labour migration and TB in Poland (Olena Rzhepishevska, Umeå University, Sweden)  
  5. Questions & Answers
Webinar on migration and health