Disruption of health services due to the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to derail progress being made in tuberculosis control efforts. Forcibly displaced people and migrant populations face particular vulnerabilities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which leaves them at further risk of developing TB. They inhabit environments where measures such as “physical distancing” are impossible to realize and where facilities like camps and informal temporary settlements can easily become sites of rapid disease transmission. In this viewpoint we utilize three case studies—from Peru, South Africa, and Syria—to illustrate the lived experience of forced migration and mobile populations, and the impact of COVID-19 on TB among these populations. We discuss the dual pandemics of TB and COVID-19 in the context of migration through a syndemic lens, to systematically address the upstream social, economic, structural and political factors that - in often deleterious dynamics - foster increased vulnerabilities and risk. Addressing TB, COVID-19 and migration from a syndemic perspective, not only draws systematic attention to comorbidity and the relevance of social and structural context, but also helps to find solutions: the true reality of syndemic interactions can only be fully understood by considering a particular population and bio- social context, and ensuring that they receive the comprehensive care that they need. It also provides avenues for strengthening and expanding the existing infrastructure for TB care to tackle both COVID-19 and TB in migrants and refugees in an integrated and synergistic manner.
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- Health services