Screening and management of tuberculosis in immigrants: the challenge beyond professional competence

Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2003 Oct;7(10):959-66.


Setting: Right of entry may sometimes be denied to immigrants because of the threat of tuberculosis. During 1990-2000 some 1050000 immigrants, mostly from countries highly endemic for TB, arrived in Israel, a low prevalence country. Nevertheless, TB rates in Israel have remained low.

Objective: To emphasise the challenge beyond technical competence for TB control for immigrants from the perspective of Israel's National Tuberculosis Programme (NTP).

Materials and methods: We defined criteria for an NTP geared to immigration, and analysed our implementation of the European Task Force recommendations on international migration and TB control. We interviewed immigrants and health care workers to identify barriers to diagnosis, prevention and treatment of TB among immigrants. We used classical epidemiology to evaluate the impact of immigration on TB rates in the host population.

Results: Until now there has been no evidence of significant spread of TB from immigrants to the host population. Successful outcome of treatment has been noted in over 75%, although a sub-population of immigrant substance abusers is proving more difficult to treat.

Conclusions: The risk of TB for the host country is very low and it seems possible to enhance TB control in immigrants with measures designed to address their cultural needs.

MeSH terms

  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Humans
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Mass Screening
  • National Health Programs
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis / prevention & control*