Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Preventing migration-related disease transmission

Throughout history, human movement or migration waves have shaped the pattern of transmission of infectious diseases. Immigration to the EU has changed dramatically over the past decades, bringing new threats for disease transfer.
Preventing migration-related disease transmission
To provide disease surveillance solutions with special emphasis on tuberculosis (TB) and HIV, the EU funded the ′Impact of immigration on HIV and tuberculosis epidemiology on the Mediterranean area′ (Immigr HIV TB MED) project. The key objective was to equip Morocco and Spain with technologies for preventing disease transmission through sub-Saharan and other immigrations.

To this end, two workshops were held bringing all stakeholders together including delegates of international and national non-governmental organisations (NGOs), health professionals, researchers and representatives of United Nations agencies. During these workshops, attendees were informed about the demographic pattern and disease risk in immigrant populations and the most effective HIV and TB laboratory screening methods. Conclusions drawn from these workshops raised the alarm about the unavailability of crucial information regarding the health status of many EU migrants.

The second workshop, held in Madrid in 2008, was attended by representatives from all Mediterranean countries and provided an overview on the ethical and legal issues related to health in migrant populations. Additionally, it aimed to determine the specific requirements that need to be considered when trying to improve the epidemiologic surveillance of HIV and TB in migrant populations. Ethical and legal issues regarding immigrant health, discrimination and access to healthcare were discussed, aiming to improve existing regimens.

Participants stressed the importance of the right to health regardless of the legal status of the individuals, recognising the need for enforcing and implementing current legislation. Project efforts revealed that the provision of early detection and treatment of HIV and TB in foreign-born individuals in the host country seemed to have an enormous public health benefit. However, compulsory screening proved to be expensive, and stakeholders considered that resources should be directed towards providing better healthcare and preventive services.

By improving the epidemiologic surveillance of HIV and TB diseases in immigrant populations, the EU hopes to manage transmission across country borders and hopefully prevent disease outbreaks.

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