Eastern Approaches: UN Migration Agency Turns to Tajik Diaspora for Help Preventing Disease

Capacity Building, Migration Health

Moscow – Saturday, 7 April is World Health Day, and IOM, the UN Migration Agency, is using the occasion to draw attention to the health needs – and rights – of migrants.
“Migrants and mobile populations deserve specific attention due to linguistic, structural and economic barriers which can limit their access to health services,” noted Dr. Jaime Calderon, IOM’s Senior Regional Health Advisor for South Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia – a region which sometimes falls short of the World Health Organization’s goals of Health for All.
A lack of targeted inter-country strategies hinders prevention and control of tuberculosis (TB), its multi-drug resistant strains, and HIV. Traditionally, TB and HIV control programmes address national needs, which – in a context with extensive cross-border migration – limit the health coverage of migrants and mobile populations in the region.
“Countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia still have some gaps to fill to achieve this goal, especially with regard to communicable diseases such as TB and HIV,” added Dr. Calderon. “The goal is to ensure that everyone, everywhere can access quality health services without facing financial hardship, as set out in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.”
Thousands of Tajiks head to the Russian Federation every year to seek work. They are being targeted with health messages in a joint campaign run by IOM and the Governments of Tajikistan and the Russian Federation.
“Many migrants from Tajikistan are undocumented and quickly end up in poor working and living conditions that make them vulnerable to communicable diseases,” said Rukhshona Kurbonova, from IOM’s Migration Health Unit in Tajikistan. “Lack of language skills and cultural differences can also hamper them in their search for health services. We need to reach out and involve diaspora communities to help spread the word.”

Kurbonova was speaking on the margins of an event in Moscow last week, where Russia-based Tajiks were trained in methods of spreading information within their networks. It is the start of a large-scale information campaign on the prevention of TB and HIV in and around the Russian capital. The training was supported by the IOM Development Fund (IDF).

“Migrants have a right to healthcare. We need to ensure they are included in governments’ attempts to provide universal health coverage, as this is key to the well-being of people and nations,” Kurbonova concluded.

For more information, please contact Rukhshona Kurbonova at IOM Tajikistan, Tel: + 992 90 505 43 00, Email: rqurbonova@iom.int

  • Members of the Tajik diaspora in Moscow were trained in dissemination of health information messages by IOM and the two governments. © IOM

  • Members of the Tajik diaspora in Moscow were trained in dissemination of health information messages by IOM and the two governments. © IOM

  • Representatives of the Tajik Diaspora discuss migrant health issues with Tajik health authorities at a IOM training course in Moscow last week. © IOM

  • Recent TB awareness campaign in Tajikistan. The methodology is being replicated among the Tajik diaspora in the Russian Federation.  © IOM