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close this bookTuberculosis Control in Refugee Situations - An Inter-Agency Field Manual (World Health Organisation, 1997, 72 p.)
close this folder1. TUBERCULOSIS (TB)
View the document1.1 Global Burden of TB
View the document1.2 Natural History of TB
View the document1.3 TB in Refugee Situations
View the document1.4 HIV/TB

1.3 TB in Refugee Situations

The number of refugees, displaced persons and other persons of concern to UNHCR was estimated to be more than 26 million in 1996. Over 85% of refugees originate from, and remain within, countries with high burdens of TB.

Refugees are at particularly high risk of developing TB. Coexistent illness and the poor nutritional status of many refugees weaken their immune system and make them more vulnerable to developing TB. The crowded living conditions of most refugee camps facilitate the transmission of TB from infectious patients.

The HIV epidemic affects many countries with large refugee populations, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. TB notifications have trebled in parts of Africa over the past decade, much of this increase being attributed to the HIV epidemic. Refugee camps in high HIV prevalence countries could be experiencing an even more dramatic rise in TB burden.


The incidence of new infectious TB patients in camps was 4 times the rate in the local population.

TB is also a major cause of death in refugee situations.


In a refugee camp in 1989, one quarter of all adult deaths were due to TB. In two camps in eastern Sudan in 1990, 38% and 50% of all adult deaths were due to TB.