Parliamentarians and Civil Society align on key issues around TB in Migration
Updated: Oct 12, 2022
On the 28th of September, 2022, the Global TB Caucus held its third Platform of Experts meeting on the theme of TB in Migration. Growing migration is an overall global trend, but the numbers have spiked in Europe due to the war in Ukraine. This increase has made it all the more important to prioritise access to healthcare and aid for refugees and migrants.
Welcome addresses were given by members of the Caucus, Hon. Jamshed Murtazakulov (Co-chair of EECA Regional TB Caucus and Head of the Tajikistan National TB Caucus) and Hon. Zakaria Hassan Al-Said. Hon. Murtazakulov opened with a consideration: “The question of migration is a global trend, but the scale of migration is growing weekly because of the situation in Ukraine. This makes it even more relevant to focus on access to health for refugees and migrants.”
Focal Points of the Caucus then shared important insights and perspectives through a series of presentations. Each of these were connected in some way, be it a common thread or concern, building upon recommendations and calls to action, or pushing for political will and a more considered approach to treating those affected by TB.
These presentations were from:
Dr. Charles Sandy, Senior Programme Officer for TB and Communicable Diseases for AUDA-NEPAD, Anglo-African region
Edouard Kambou Sansan, Advocacy Manager for DRAF-TB, Francophone Region (Presentation in FR)
Across the board, consistent points of concern for migrants are access to healthcare, follow-through on treatment, and the double stigma they face: as migrants, and as people who may be more vulnerable to TB. Olya Klymenko emphasised that governments need to make a bigger commitment to ensuring TB programs are properly funded and that parliamentarians engage in leadership that promotes person-centred policymaking. She also mentioned the value of supporting community-led monitoring programs such as OneImpact*, which can be very helpful to those affected by TB.
When we think of how to best give inclusive aid, in the context of those seeking better opportunities or asylum from difficult circumstances, it becomes necessary to centre the person in our considerations. The first step is always awareness: acknowledging the current situation, the things we can do, and then understanding how to best move forward.
Sensitivity is key. Dr. Charles Sandy insightfully shared that migration has always been a key component of the human experience; a nuanced occurrence that results in a broad spectrum of individual and family experiences: those who are leaving, those left behind, and those in the destination countries. Migrants must also often contend with a broad range of stigmas, and regarding this Dr. Sandy says: “TB does not stop at national borders, so policies to address TB should not be constrained by political concerns.”
Hon. Zakaria Hassan Al-Said ended by remarking that TB is a multisectoral issue that needs stronger involvement: political commitments and will are necessary moving forward, and that healthcare must be accessible and available to vulnerable populations. To this end, collaboratively working for greater political will and legislation that centres the needs of patients is a key step towards ending TB altogether.
If you missed the latest Platform of Experts, you may access the recordings and other materials here.
We would also like to acknowledge the presence of parliamentarians who joined this third gathering and engaged in the discussions:
Hon Josephine Shava, Zimbabwe
Hon Vairet Nharinhari, Zimbabwe
Hon Saizi Tapera, Zimbabwe
Hon Dought Ndiweni, Zimbabwe
Hon Chinhamo-Masango, Zimbabwe
Hon Nicola Watson, Zimbabwe
Hon Shakespear Hamauswa, Zimbabwe
Hon Perseviarance Zhou, Zimbabwe
Hon Moshoeshoe Fakofako, Lesotho
Hon Malahat Ibrahimgizi, Azerbaijan
*OneImpact is a multifunctional digital application specifically designed to work against TB, and gives patients the opportunity to receive aid and healthcare. As of writing, it is available in 25 countries.