7 July 2017 - Balti, Moldova - Balti is another city in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region to join the Zero TB City Initiative which was formalized through an agreement signed by the Acting Mayor of the city, Igor Sheremet and Dr Lucica Ditiu, the Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership. Stakeholders ranging from the public health sector, representatives of NGOs and community organizations, representatives of the church and administration have all committed to engage and support this initiative, under the leadership of the Mayor’s Office.
The Zero TB Cities project is a collaborative initiative geared towards significant, accelerated reductions in TB mortality and prevalence in high burden metropolitan areas. To date, the cities of Odesa Ukraine; Chennai, India; Durban, South Africa; Karachi, Pakistan; Kisumu, Kenya; and Lima (Caraballyo), Peru have moved swiftly to design comprehensive programs, create new partnership models, and begin resource mobilization for this effort.
"Signing the Zero TB Declaration is of great importance for the Balti municipality taking into account extremely high TB burden, and success of the TB response depends first of all on the efforts of all stakeholders. Here the role of local authorities is paramount both in terms of implementation of the municipal TB Program and in terms of support of civil society associations. I consider that signing this Declaration provides for the extended involvement of the local administration in the TB response and opens possibilities to engage international expertise. I would like to express my gratitude to all the parties who contributed to achieving this result," said the Acting Mayor of Balti, Igor Sheremet.
Along with other Eastern European countries, the Republic of Moldova is among the WHO European Region’s 18 high-priority countries for TB control and among the world’s 27 multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) high burden countries. Despite more recent indications of fewer TB deaths and patients lost to follow-up, still almost one third of newly diagnosed TB patients and two thirds of those returning for treatment have MDR-TB in the Republic of Moldova.
"We came to Balti and were very impressed and honored to work with our friends and colleagues there. The Acting Mayor and his team, the TB program representatives, the NGOs Tinerii pentru Dreptul la Viata, Speranta Terrei, and the Moldova National Association of TB (SMIT) all came together and committed to join efforts to make the city TB-free. The Episcope for Balti and Falesti committed to engage the priests from the region in order to educate the population, reduce stigma and increase access for all people affected by TB. Two days after our visit, the representatives of the Mayor’s Office and local NGOs met with more than 100 priests and discussed their concrete engagement and messaging to support the efforts of ending TB," said Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership.
This Declaration was initiated within the Fast Track TB/HIV responses for key populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia cities project operating in five cities of EECA region. Fast-track HIV/TB responses among key populations in cities of EECA is the Global Fund funded regional project of the Alliance for Public Health (Ukraine), AFEW International (The Netherlands), licit (Switzerland) and the Stop TB Partnership under technical guidance from the UNAIDS EECA office which is there to support city responses to HIV and TB in key populations in the five cities of EECA, including Balti. Operational research will start in mid-2017 as a part of the project that will focus on strengthening linkages between TB and HIV programs to reduce HIV/TB mortality in the city of Balti.