The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), an agency of the United Nations, and the Cambodian National Centre for Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control (CENAT), have launched a new collaboration to diagnose tuberculosis (TB) among Cambodian migrants returning from Thailand.
The project which is funded by the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, will provide TB screening, diagnosis, health education, and referral support to over 100,000 migrants over the next three years.
The Poipet border between Thailand and Cambodia, in Cambodia’s Banteay Meachey province, is the main crossing point for Cambodian irregular migrants returned by the Thai immigration authorities.
According to Poipet officials, over 70,000 were returned through the Poipet in 2017. As irregular migrants working in Thailand, many suffered from poor working and living conditions and had limited access to healthcare, making them especially vulnerable to TB.https://www.iom.int/news/iom-cambodia-launch-new-project-detect-manage-tb-among-migrants-thai-cambodian-border
Under the new project, IOM and CENAT will collaborate to offer TB screening at the Poipet Migrant Transit Centre, through providing health education, onsite digital X-ray services, referral support for TB suspect cases to get rapid diagnosis through molecular diagnosis, and follow up to ensure that diagnosed patients get access treatment through Cambodia’s national TB programme at their final destination. Poipet currently has very limited capacity for TB diagnosis and treatment.
The project, which is part of a regional Global Fund grant implemented across Greater Mekong Sub-region countries to address TB in migrants and mobile populations, will also offer services to the local community, where many people are mobile and work on both sides of the border.
CENAT Director Dr Mao Tan Eang launched the initiative. “This is a special free service for migrants, but we will also welcome people from surrounding villages who suspect they have TB or have symptoms such as a cough for more than two weeks, sweating at night, fever and weight loss. Please come to have a test done here”, he said.
IOM Regional Migration Health Advisor for Asia and the Pacific, Dr Patrick Duigan, said “this project and collaboration with CENAT is a critically important to ensure that migrants, and in particular undocumented and irregular migrants, are not left behind in the pursuit of the global health goal of ending TB for all. Collectively, governments, civil society and communities will only be able to achieve universal health coverage if no-one is left behind.”
Adding, he said, “to eliminate TB we need to ensure that migrants and mobile populations are included in public health efforts. There can be no Universal Health Coverage or ending of TB without migrant health coverage and providing access to TB care for migrants.”