Cross-Border TB Prevention and Control among Migrants in Central Asia
On April 10, representatives of the health and migration government agencies of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and the Republic of Kazakhstan gathered in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, for a regional working group meeting on “Migration and Tuberculosis (TB): Cross-Border TB Control in Central Asia.” The goal of this quarterly forum is to review progress made in bilateral agreements and mechanisms for regional coordination of TB diagnostics, treatment and pre-departure orientation for migrant workers from Central Asian countries to improve their health status and well-being through improved access to quality TB services and care.
Since 2015, the governments of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and Project HOPE with support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have met regularly to improve cross-border TB control, prevention and care among migrant workers from Central Asia. This meeting followed a second high-level meeting held in Astana in December 2016. During the December meeting, participants from Central Asian countries adopted a 12-month Action Plan/Road Map for coordinated TB control efforts among migrant workers and execution of bilateral government agreements on cooperation in cross-border TB control, prevention and care among migrant workers from Central Asia.
The bilateral agreements are formulated in accordance with the Minimum Package for Cross-Border TB Control and Care in the WHO European Region recommended by the Wolfheze Consensus Statement of the WHO TB Conference. The Statement sets forth minimum standards with respect to TB governance, financing, inter-country data exchange, prevention, diagnostics, treatment, surveillance and monitoring, as well as the provision of a supportive environment for TB control among migrant workers.
The meeting in Dushanbe, like previous meetings held since 2015, demonstrates an unprecedented commitment of Central Asian countries to jointly address the challenges posed by the high prevalence of TB in Central Asia especially among migrant workers. Migrant workers remain particularly vulnerable to the disease, which is difficult to treat due to frequent travel, social issues, and limited access to timely TB diagnosis and treatment in host countries. Migration from and within Central Asia is one of the critical factors exacerbating the TB burden and contributing to the development of drug resistance throughout Central Asia.
The meeting was conducted with support from the Global Fund, USAID and Project HOPE.