Migration and infectious diseases

While focus is often placed on HIV and AIDS, discussion of the link between mobility and health is not complete without mention of other infectious diseases. Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most significant diseases among migrant populations (Hugo 2008). It is traditionally a disease of poverty and is strongly linked to social and environmental factors. Consequently, there is vast disparity in the rates of TB between populations of different social backgrounds, with migrants carrying a disproportionate burden of the disease (Hugo 2008). Conditions of overcrowding and poor nutrition, and low awareness of prevention measures contribute greatly to the transmission of TB, which is both an airborne and highly contagious disease.

TB incidence in South Asia is high—in 2008 there were a total 179 reported cases per 100,000 people (World Bank 2008). Of the 22 highest TB burden countries globally, India is ranked first while Bangladesh and Pakistan are ranked fifth and sixth, respectively (WHO 2010). In India, TB is the largest single cause of adult illness and death from a communicable disease (World Bank 2004).

The combination of trends in increasing human mobility, emerging multi-drug resistant TB and rising rates of co-infection with HIV and AIDS are raising new issues in the prevention and control of TB (Hugo 2008).