Partners rally to support patients in Afghanistan after fire at TB drug warehouse

12 November 2013 - Kabul, Afghanistan - A fire that destroyed the entire stock of tuberculosis (TB) drugs in Afghanistan’s central warehouse threatened to leave TB patients in the country without the medicines needed to continue their treatment. But local and international partners rallied around the national TB programme to provide a swift emergency response.

Fortunately, representatives from the Global Drug Facility (GDF) were in Afghanistan when the fire broke out. Working with the World Health Organization’s country and regional offices and GDF staff from the Stop TB Partnership Secretariat in Geneva, they made an urgent request to the TB programme in Pakistan which provided an emergency supply of drugs. At the same time GDF took steps to ensure that drug stocks will be rebuilt and drugs will be supplied in a timely manner.

The response to the fire is just one example of how partners in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region have shared resources and experiences to overcome shortages in TB drugs.

The ongoing conflict in Syria has led to huge influx of refugees in neighbouring Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan. The living conditions in the refugee camps have led to increased number of people becoming ill with TB in these countries and a critical shortage of TB drugs.

In response, Egypt’s national TB programme has stepped in to provide the three countries with more than 30% of the additional need for drugs. GDF has worked with the national TB programmes and regional offices to ensure the smooth transfer of TB medicines from Egypt while they wait for their next full shipment from GDF.

"These partnerships are the need of the day, especially in conflict zones where TB programmes can come across sudden challenges," said Khaled Khalil, GDF Regional Technical Officer at the World Health Organization Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office.