Tuberculosis and Human Mobility

Tuberculosis detection and control continues to be an important public health concern for both sending and receiving countries, as well as migrants and their families. IOM contributes to cross-border tuberculosis detection and control by screening migrants for active tuberculosis prior to resettlement. Within its tuberculosis screening programmes, IOM provides a wide range of tuberculosis-related services, including physical examination, radiological investigation, the tuberculin skin test, sputum smear and culture, drug susceptibility testing (DST), contact tracing, health education and directly-observed treatment (DOT). Tuberculosis treatment is provided either directly by IOM or through a referral system, in partnership with national tuberculosis programmes (NTPs).

Tuberculosis Care and Prevention for Migrants:

Factsheet: World Health Organization (WHO) and International Organization for Migration (IOM) 

Quick Facts

  • There are an estimated one billion migrants in the world today, which include 232 million international migrants and 740 million internal migrants.
  • Tuberculosis (TB) imposes great human suffering and loss. 9 million people fell ill with TB worldwide in 2013, with 1.5 million deaths.
  • TB particularly affects poor and vulnerable populations; migrants are a key affected population.
  • Migration as a social determinant of health increases TB-related morbidity and mortality for migrants and their communities along all migration pathways.
  • In low and middle TB-burden countries, TB among foreign-born populations is often high, due to existing infection or reactivation of latent TB.
  • Migrant and mobile populations from and within high TB-burden countries face a range of risk factors.

Why are migrants vulnerable to TB?

  • Among migrant workers with a legal status, their access to TB diagnosis and care is subject to contracts, work permits and ability to access health care services or insurance from the State or the employer.
  • Undocumented migrants face challenges such as fear of deportation that limit their access to diagnostic and treatment services. Deportation while on treatment or poor adherence may lead to drug-resistant disease, poor outcomes and further spread of infection.
  • Migrants in detention centres or trafficked persons often live in unhealthy conditions for extended periods of time, creating pockets of vulnerability to TB.
  • Forced displacement of persons after conflict or a natural disaster is often associated with increased TB risk due to malnutrition, overcrowding in camps or other temporary shelters, treatment interruption from disruption of health services and risk of drug resistance.

Tuberculosis and Migration Portal

The TB and Migration Portal is designed and hosted by IOM with seed funding support from the Stop TB Partnership in order to provide a platform for future initiatives of the Union TB Migration Working Group.

The TB and Migration Portal seeks to provide a one-stop service website to promote new research, information exchange and dialogue, intended to fill the existing data, research and knowledge gaps on TB and Migration. The Portal was started with content based on recent events and publications relevant to the issue around TB and migration.  It is hoped that over the coming year the content will be enhanced and dissemination widened through engagement of other partners and stakeholders working on TB and migration issues.

With growing need for and interest in ensuring that TB prevention, treatment and care reaches migrants and mobile populations, this Portal proposes to become a relevant resource for national and international stakeholders.