TB and Migration: Global TB Caucus hosts Regional Forum to address TB care for migrants
On June 27, 2022, the Global TB Caucus (GTBC) held a regional online forum on TB and Migration. Following the recent events in Ukraine, a spike in migration has internally and externally displaced an estimated five million people. This forum discussed the effects migration has on the TB sphere: how to prepare for these changes, best practices from shared experience, and how to approach giving aid and care in a holistic, inclusive way.
The forum was opened by Co-chair of the Western Europe (WE) region, Baroness Alison Suttie and Co-chairs of Eastern Europe and Central Asia countries (EECA), Hon Jamshed Murtazakulov and Hon Dan Perciun. During their welcome speech parliamentarians gave attention to the relevance of the Global Fund’s role in the forum’s context and in preparation for its upcoming 7th Replenishment.
The first presentation was from Ms. Iana Terleeva (Ukrainian NTP Manager), who gave context on the TB and Migration situation in Ukraine. She called attention to certain conditions on the ground, emphasised that medical facilities should not be targets for shelling, and called on governments and civil society to ensure that those who leave their homes should be treated with dignity. Lastly, she pushed for broader, more thorough involvement across the TB sphere, and thanked all relevant partners.
Afterwards, Mr. Scott Boule (Global Fund) discussed the role that the Global Fund plays in the TB sphere, and emphasised efforts to accelerate the ongoing shift towards patient-centred, differentiated models of care. He brought up the ongoing role of Resilient & Sustainable Systems for Health (RSSH), a foundation focused on pandemic preparedness. This is important as the ongoing situation in Ukraine develops: that essential services are maintained on the ground. To this end, communities have worked tirelessly, such as preventing stock outs of ART and OST. There may be a long road ahead, but it is through continued, united work that solutions arise.
Mr Boule was followed by Dr. Askar Yedilbayev (WHO Regional Office for Europe). In addressing TB and its effects on refugees, he mentioned that the 1951 Refugee Convention is the basis for how to approach giving aid: asserting that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious issues to their well-being. Dr. Yedilbayev connected this to the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. He then stressed the value of data exchange across borders, and the importance of civil society engagement as we face the global implications of the ongoing situation in Ukraine.
Afterwards, Prof. Brian Citro (Human Rights Lawyer and TB Legislation Expert) presented the study, developed under the TB-REP 2.0 project, with coordination by the Global TB Caucus: “People-Centred, Rights-Based TB Legislation”. This study examined laws and frameworks from across the EECA region, and noted that none of the laws in the study prohibit discrimination against people affected by TB—an effective means to prevent stigma and discrimination. The study recommends several things, among them the prohibition of all forms of discrimination against those affected by TB, as well as establishing people-centered TB care as the national standard. The full study is available here.
Afterwards, the moderator, Ms. Olha Klymenko, introduced to parliamentarians and other participants the language of the Declaration of People Affected by TB. Parliamentarians agreed that these two documents need to be implemented with the national specifics into their legislation systems.
At the final note, Ms Alesia Matusevych EECA and civil society organisations manager of GTBC and Mr Daniel Kashnitskiy, academic Relations Coordinator, Regional Expert Group on Migration and Health introduced the “Joint statement of intent on TB care for migrants”, developed by members of the Global TB Caucus and civil society organisations. Co-chairs of the WE and EECA region agreed to sign it.
The program was brought to a close by Ms. Lucy Foster (Global TB Caucus), who opened the forum to questions and statements from MPs. Moldovian MP Hon Dan Perciun said that they would be fully on board with the Joint statement of Intent, and that they are more than happy to implement the recommendations of “People-Centred, Rights-Based TB Legislation” into the national legislation; hopefully with the help of national CSOs who may have more mobility in drafting the necessary legislative changes to put them into action.
This forum has shown that in order to address TB care for migrants, we must direct our focus in a multisectoral way: by looking at data, legislation, funding, the work of the community, and the political support in the region.
This forum was just one step in our broader campaign on TB and migration and given the extensive reach of the topic, the Caucus is planning to host similar discussions. The Caucus is also planning to organise a global culminating event, through a session of our Platform of Experts, followed by regional implementation of the joint statement of intent.
Photo Credits to Kseniya Lapteva Please, approach Alesia Matusevuch, the regional EECA manager of the GTBC, in case you would like to join the Joint Statement of intent: firstname.lastname@example.org