Those who follow the media coverage of the current refugee and migration drama in Europe have probably come across the word “tuberculosis”. In Germany at least, where humanitarian camps are erected to give a most basic shelter to exhausted migrants, this old infectious disease gets again increasing attention. (http://www.tagesschau.de/inland/fluechtlinge-gesundheit-101.html) – (http://www.lvz.de/Mitteldeutschland/News/Fluechtlingsunterkunft-in-Dresden-erste-Krankheitsfaelle-im-Zeltlager)
Typically, tuberculosis is reported once a year only, on March 24, World TB Day. In such annual standard accounts, tuberculosis is usually depicted as a disease of poor patients in developing countries, and thus it is placed in a context of global health in the South. Today, global health is no more hundreds of miles away. Global health is in Europe. Humanitarian organizations in Germany intervene with similar means of disaster relief as in the Global South. The German State is dependend on their support. And yet there is a State and its infrastructures that can help secure medical care, for free, also for tuberculosis.
Fear of this infectious diseases is nothing new. Regularly, migrants are held responsible for it. But such a debate on “Risk and Blame”, fuelled by right wing politicians, as lately in Dresden, is simply inadequate, inappropriate. One question should rather be how it can be that tuberculosis only becomes a topic, an event to be heard when migrants are concerend, whereas this disease still exists and is treated on an everyday basis in Germany. Another point of concern should be the question of global health and how to reconceptualise it today. A great start to do so is Todd Meyers and Nancy Lee Hunts article on the other global South in the Lancet. Also have a look at questions of North/South boundaries in my article on Ebola in Spain.