15 December 2017 - Geneva, Switzerland - Stop TB Partnership Secretariat engaged with essential partners to support their efforts and country TB programmes to advance in the fight to end TB in the European Region to prepare the ground for the UN High Level Meeting for TB in 2018.
In just one week, three regional meetings held in Astana, Kazakhstan, in Tallinn, Estonia and Minsk, Belarus put TB in the spotlight in a region that can lead the way towards a world free of TB. The discussions were centered around migration and migrants and their access to services, how to sustain and expand programmes after donor support ends and how communities, civil society and networks of people affected by TB can work together.
"It is very impressive. We managed to focus our efforts on Europe this week and we organized and participated in meetings discussing essential aspects if we want to end TB: vulnerable groups, political leadership, domestic financing, and donor support -- including the European Commission’s vision, issues around migration, advocacy and civil society engagement and the UN HLM for TB in 2018. The European region benefits from strong TB programmes and health systems, and amazing partners, especially the European Commission, WHO European Region team, ECDC, networks of civil society and communities, TB people as a network of people affected by TB, IFRC, Project HOPE, IOM, as well as UNAIDS and the Global Fund. As a European, I hope this region will actually end TB before 2030. There is absolutely no reason not to do it," said Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership.
Migration and TB were front and center in Astana, Kazakhstan, when TB experts, policymakers and advocates convened for the third high-level regional meeting on "Migration and Tuberculosis: Cross-border TB Control and Care in the Central Asian Region."
The meeting, held 6 - 7 December, was organized by the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Project HOPE, the Global Fund and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with participants from government agencies, national TB programmes and migration authorities from Central Asia; representatives of civil society and communities, experts from the WHO, Stop TB Partnership, IOM, and IFRC. The event was organized in line with the Comprehensive Plan to Fight TB in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2014-2020, which calls for activities to address TB among migrants and expand their access to services, as well as the programme “Addressing Cross-border Control of TB, MDR/XDR-TB and TB/HIV among Labor Migrants in the Republic of Kazakhstan” implemented by Project HOPE and funded by the Global Fund. The meeting advanced the regional dialogue on migration matters between Kazakhstan and neighboring countries in Central Asia. The dialogue takes place on a mutually beneficial basis, towards signing of bilateral agreements for effective regional cooperation on cross-border control, prevention and care of TB in the region.
For two days, 100 participants from TB and HIV programmes in EU member states and neighboring countries met in Tallinn, Estonia at an event organized by the Ministry of Social Affairs and National Institute for Health Development from Estonia, WHO European Region, UNAIDS and the Global Fund. The participants, panelists and speakers discussed challenges and opportunities in ensuring sustainability of programmes when transitioning from donor support to sustainable health systems.
Stop TB Partnership was part of the opening panel and centered its discussion around the need for vision and political leadership in TB and the ambition towards concrete asks for the UN HLM on TB in September 2018. Participants had an opportunity to hear how the Estonian government and TB and HIV programme, in strong collaboration with civil society and community, managed to decrease the number of new HIV cases from 1, 474 in 2001 to 229 in 2016. Additionally, TB incidence decreased from 47/100,000 to 12.7/100 000. The meeting discussed concrete steps towards strengthening the national TB and HIV programmes as well as the need for more significant advances in the integration of TB and HIV services.
TB advocates in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region came together in Minsk, Belarus, this week for a three-day workshop on strengthening community TB advocacy and engagement.
The workshop, held 11 - 13 December, was organized by International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) and Stop TB Partnership, in collaboration with national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, and support of community advocates from the regional networks, TBPeople and TB Europe Coalition (TBEC). Activities broached on subjects as diverse as community challenges in the regional TB response, regional epidemiology, TB treatment literacy and communities, rights and gender tools to build an evidence base for an effective TB response. There was also a community consultation focusing on the rights and responsibilities of people affected by TB. This event was the second of five regional workshops that will focus on building stronger, more-coordinated affected communities, advancing strategic partnerships – particularly between Stop TB Partnership, IFRC, national Red Cross societies and community TB advocates – and composing of an advocacy plan and engagement strategy to ensure community priorities are represented and stakeholders are engaged during the UN HLM on TB in 2018. We look forward to continue to support the advocates of the region as we continue toward the HLM and work together to end TB.