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Union statement on tuberculosis in migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic

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The Union’s Tuberculosis and Migration working group has released a statement stressing that there must not be neglect of tuberculosis (TB) among migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are multiple threads connecting COVID-19 to TB, especially in migrants. Both TB and COVID-19 are transmitted via the respiratory route, and can cause respiratory symptoms. The data concerning the natural history of co-infection are still emerging, but evidence may point to worse TB-treatment outcomes in people with COVID-19.

As the fight against COVID-19 continues, migrants are at potential risk of being underdiagnosed and undertreated for TB because of lack of access to healthcare and limited resources. With these increasing risks in an already vulnerable population, The Union’s statement calls for the continuation of TB care and highlights the needs of vulnerable populations, including migrants, during the COVID-19 response.

The statement stresses that the expertise and infrastructure which has been built for TB care provides an opportunity to integrate TB and COVID-19 efforts among the migrants, enabling services to fight both infections in a more beneficial and cost-effective way.

The statement goes on to make recommendations for the treatment of TB in migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic, urging that services do not neglect TB among migrants especially during COVID-19.

The TB and Migration Working Group is part of the Union membership Tuberculosis Scientific Section, it focuses on tuberculosis among migrants, including epidemiology and risk factors in countries of origin, during transit and after arrival in countries of destination, and during their potential return. The group supports this emerging and under researched field through webinars, symposia, conferences and scientific papers and has a role in informing policy within The Union.

Read the statement in full.