Migrant study moves into next phase

Colleagues from OSR are leaving Sicily having screened nearly 4,000 migrants since November 2016.

Here, Dr Lucia Barcellini describes their journey so far, and their plans for the next phase of the project.

“In the last few months OSR staff completed the screening activities for active TB in Sicily.

“A first survey to determine the TB prevalence in refugees, hosted in first aid and first reception facilities, began in November 2016. Our aim was to understand the cascade of reception in regions on the Mediterranean route and the most effective methods of intervention. The initial idea, agreed by local healthcare partners, was to perform active TB screening on a sample of migrants hosted in first reception facilities in southern Italy using a symptomatic questionnaire on a phone application and rapid microbiological tests (GeneXpert ULTRA, performed on the spot thanks to the new portable platform GeneXpert OMNI).

“Unfortunately, the portable platform to perform microbiological analysis is still not available. Samples of symptomatic individuals have been shipped to OSR laboratory in order to perform a complete microbiological analysis including whole genome sequencing for transmission analysis.

“We managed to gather a total sample of almost 4,000 newly-arrived migrants who we screened for active TB. Microbiological analysis is still ongoing. Thanks to the use of E-DETECT App a database containing patient’s information, microbiological analysis and other diagnostic tests is already available for analysis.

“Work Package 5 (WP5) partners have been making efforts to advocate for the adoption of the system through a continuous dialogue with regional and national authorities. An agreement with local public health authorities ATS Agrigento is almost reached. Local medical staff will take over the E-DETECT protocol under the coordination of the local public health authorities, while WP5 staff will perform the microbiological analysis (until an on-the-spot platform for microbiological analysis is implemented) and provide technical and scientific assistance. Meanwhile, in Catania and Lampedusa, WP5 efforts are now concentrated on opening new forms of collaboration with local actors to ensure that we don’t lose momentum and that these newly-established activities can continue.”

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