Global TB Caucus holds joint Eastern Europe and Central Asia TB Summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan
18 May 2023, Dushanbe, Tajikistan — Future-proof: Eastern Europe and Central Asia TB Summit held from May 16-18, 2023 at Dushanbe Serena Hotel brought together over 13 local and international Members of Parliament and key stakeholders in the TB sphere to drive renewed regional efforts against the disease. Nine countries in the region are among the 30 countries with the highest burden of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), and while some of these countries have high TB treatment success rates, political will across the region is necessary to improve health outcomes.
"In order to ensure that governments and heads of states realise their responsibilities, there is a need to put various systems in place. We need to work together", Hon Dan Perciun, member of parliament from Moldova and Regional Co-Chair of Eastern Europe and Central Asia shared. "With the expertise, knowledge and experience of our civil society partners; and with our political influence, we can jointly ensure that our governments' promised policies come to fruition. It is important that these policies are well rooted, based on what is needed, and address the challenges and issues we face."
The EECA TB summit was held in tandem with the CSO Forum Unite to Eliminate TB in Central Asia and its regional workshop Strengthening Tuberculosis Coverage in the Mass Media, organised by USAID Eliminating TB in Central Asia (ETICA), Stop TB Partnership and Center for Health Policies and Studies (PAS Center): the main partners of the Caucus for this event.
"Although our region is championing many aspects to end TB, there are still gaps in the way health delivery is organised. It does not reach everyone in need of TB care", Cristina Celan, Program Coordinator for the Center for Health Policies and Studies (PAS Center) emphasised. "This joint event, which involves so many stakeholders, shows joint efforts to ensure efforts are followed, and makes possible a multisectoral response that paves the path for each person that needs to find acceptable, affordable, available, and qualitative services for TB."
Both the regional CSO forum and the summit provided opportunities for participants from different countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to share and learn from mutual experiences, as well as meet with ministers, such as Mr. Amirzoda Abdukholiq, Deputy Minister of Health of Tajikistan, members of parliament, TB-affected persons, and media representatives. This enabled discussion of the role of parliamentarians, civil society, and media in ensuring accountability towards regional and global targets, and the UN High-level meeting on TB in 2023.
On this, Mr. Robin Mardeusz, Director of USAID’s Central Asia Mission Democracy and Health Office said, “A global disease requires a global response. A United Nations High Level Meeting (UNHLM) on TB in this fall will be an opportunity to drive a stronger global response and accelerate progress towards the End TB targets and will come at a time when rates of TB, including drug-resistant TB, may be higher than they have been for decades.”
The summit culminated with the discussion of the first-of-its-kind Regional Joint Statement between CSOs, media, and MPs, which looks to centre TB and place it at the forefront of health policy considerations in the EECA region. This further informs the statement, which will be part of the regional recommendations for the UN HLM declaration on TB. It is expected to be completely signed in a week by TB stakeholders and Members of the Caucus from the EECA region, including host-country Tajikistan, and others present such as Uzbekistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Moldova.
Hon. Jamshed Murtazakulov, member of parliament in Tajikistan and Regional Co-chair of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, shared a meaningful perspective on the importance of collaboration: "As we have heard, and continue to hear, parliamentarians and civil society need to work together. We will make the decisions and contributions necessary to address the issues TB have caused. We know everyone is affected by this disease, whether directly or indirectly. We highly urge countries that are not yet part of the Caucus, of this movement to end TB, to join us in our mission."
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