Securing our TB free future - Eastern European and Central Asian health leaders increase political commitment to ending tuberculosis

100 representatives from governments to civil society come together in Uzbekistan to increase their commitment to end TB in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

24 June, Tashkent, Uzbekistan: The Stop TB Partnership and World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe have brought together, 100 key stakeholders and partners from 13 countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, for the first time since the United Nations High-Level Meeting (UN HLM) last September, to discuss and debate the status of the tuberculosis (TB) airborne pandemic, the high rates of drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) and challenges towards ending this disease.

Held over two days in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, the high-level regional meeting is part of an initiative of the Stop TB Partnership with financial support from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to increase political commitment, domestic funding and innovative financing methods, and create regional movements towards ending TB through strategic engagements and dialogue.

Uzbekistan was chosen as the venue thanks to its government’s exceptional political commitment to end TB, led by the Ministry of Health.

Over the past decade, Uzbekistan has enhanced its prevention, diagnosis, treatment, of TB and DR-TB, consistently improving success rates. The country’s leadership is forward-thinking and bold, increasing targeted funding for TB programmes and making substantial investments in the procurement of medicines, setting its sights firmly on ending TB by 2030.

Nearly a quarter of a million cases of TB, the world’s leading infectious disease killer after COVID-19, were reported in the Eastern European and Central Asian region in 2022. Despite progress made in combatting the disease, TB and especially DR-TB remain a major public health concern and cause of premature mortality in the region.

The appeal to bolster funding comes almost a year after the UN High-Level Meeting on TB as part of global efforts to meet the targets and share the goal of ending the TB epidemic by 2030.

According to data reported to WHO, the vast majority of Western European nations are making good progress towards TB elimination, while certain countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia continue to see large numbers of DR-TB. The EECA region is ranked as having 24% of all global cases of multidrug-resistant or rifampicin-resistant TB (MDR/RR-TB) and 47% of pre-extensively DR-TB cases (pre-XDR-TB).

On a global scale, TB claims the lives of 1.6 million people every year, despite the disease being preventable, treatable and curable.

“We are confident that this region can and will show leadership in ending TB. The 13 countries represented here with a variety of stakeholders have all needed to make TB history for their citizens. We are grateful for the partnership we have with all our national stakeholders and with WHO’s Regional Office for Europe and other partners, as I know we will find solutions together to end TB - not in isolation, but integration of our efforts towards strengthened national health systems,” said Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership.

“We are a long way from ending TB in the European Region, but there is hope on the horizon,” said Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge. “New evidence shows how a reduced 9-month treatment plan for multi-drug resistant TB has a treatment success rate of 83%. In the past, treatment for MDR-TB could take as long as 3 years. And because there are no injectables and far fewer pills to take, patients can be cared for in their communities and in some cases keep working. New breakthroughs like this are only possible with concerted investments into new diagnostics and treatments, which is precisely why I am convening the first-ever Central Asia International Health Investment Forum in Bishkek later this week. The two-day event will help accelerate investments in health, because as we know, without health there is no economic growth or prosperity”

The aim of the meeting was to bring together key stakeholders from the region, strategize on further strengthening national and regional responses and advance the shared goal of ending the TB epidemic by 2030.

The meeting was attended by representatives from 13 regional TB high burden countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Participants from international agencies including USAID, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank joined leaders and experts from WHO and the Stop TB Partnership.


About the Stop TB Partnership

The Stop TB Partnership is a unique United Nations hosted entity based in Geneva, Switzerland, committed to revolutionizing the tuberculosis (TB) space to end the disease by 2030. The organization aligns more than 2,000 partners worldwide to promote cross-sectoral collaboration. The Stop TB Partnership’s various teams and initiatives take bold and smart risks to identify, fund and support innovative approaches, ideas, and solutions to ensure the TB community has a voice at the highest political levels and that all TB-affected people have access to affordable, quality, and people-centered care.


About the WHO Regional Office for Europe

WHO/Europe is one of WHO’s six regional offices around the world. It serves the WHO European Region, which comprises 53 countries across Europe and Central Asia, covering a vast geographical region from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. WHO/Europe’s efforts to achieve health for all are underpinned by the European Programme of Work 2020-2025. WHO/Europe’s tuberculosis action plan 2023–2030 outlines the vision and strategic actions to support Member States to implement their national responses to the TB epidemic and provides strategies to enable the Region to reach the global End TB Strategy targets.