Good Morning from a gray Geneva! My name is Poonam, I work as migration health programme coordinator at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and also co-Chair a Working Group on TB and migration at the International Union against TB and Lung Disease (UNION). And as a Panelist for this week's discussions on TB and migration, I will be here today to pose questions, participate in discussions with you and learn also from all.
With the end TB strategy, the Global Plan to end TB and TB related targets in the SDGs 2030 - the international community and national stakeholders have committed to reaching key populations - including migrants and mobile populations, with the appropriate TB prevention, treatment and care.
During the discussions today, we would like to raise issues around national health systems' response in this regard - how can national health systems adapt to ensure they are inclusive of migrants - including (but not limited to) both documented and undocumented migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, labour migrants, seasonal cross-border workers, etc.
How can countries develop migrant-inclusive national TB strategic plans, and ensure the underlying principles of the end TB strategy are well respected - for example, Protection and promotion of human rights, ethics and equity? Universal Health Coverage and the principle of 'leave no one behind' should indeed ensure health systems are capable of responding to the health needs of migrants as well as host communities. This requires innovative service delivery models, like mobile clinics; measures to address stigma and discrimination; culturally competent health care professionals and community engagement.
Adapting the end TB strategy to address TB in migrants would require capacity building of health systems - what are the key elements to consider? Are there experiences from your work in countries on what works and what does not? Health systems require the right level of human, financial and institutional capacity to respond to needs of migrants, and often serve hard-to-reach and most vulnerable groups.
A key element is of course building cross-border collaboration - some of you discussed the issues surrounding cross-border continuity of care yesterday. Are there critical gaps that emerged and could be addressed in health systems strengthening to address TB in migrants?
In building health service delivery models and policies that are evidence-based, a key challenge often is the lack of robust evidence on TB burden and risk factors among various migrant populations, especially in mid and high TB burden countries. So should national health systems wait for the right evidence before reaching out with TB services for marginalized or vulnerable migrant groups, such as those in undocumented status or urban refugees or forcefully displaced persons in a protracted conflict?
Some resources included here. More soon!