Parliamentarians gather in Kyiv for the Eastern Europe and Central Asia TB Summit
On the 20th and 21st of June, the Global TB Caucus organised the second Eastern European and Central Asian Summit on TB, in Kyiv. This summit was hosted by Hon Serhiy Kiral and Hon Akaki Zoidze and organized under the TB-REP framework, in close collaboration with the TB Europe Coalition (TBEC), PAS Center and the Global Fund. The meeting gave MPs from across the region an opportunity to discuss about accountability and specific actions to reach the UN Political Declaration targets of the UN High Level Meeting on TB.
Countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia have the fastest growing drug-resistant tuberculosis epidemic in the world. Parliamentarians in the region are very engaged and knowledgeable of the disease and the technical and political challenges each country needs to overcome in order to end TB. They also revealed their concern regarding the devastating impacts of drug-resistant tuberculosis in social and economic spheres, which leads to discrimination and stigma.
As part of the TB-REP grant & to help ensure sustainable collaboration between all TB stakeholders, the meeting was organized to coincide with a training conducted by TBEC. The TBEC training, also held in Kyiv, gathered several civil society representatives from across the region, which enabled rich discussions. For two full days, parliamentarians and civil society discussed concrete actions to be taken in each country to ensure the achievement of targets.
The summit started with a presentation of the acting Minister of Health of Ukraine, Ms Uliana Suprun. Ms Suprun explained the challenges the country faces with drug-resistant tuberculosis and how the ministry is working to tackle it. Her presentation was followed by a debate between Parliamentarians on specific issues that can be addressed by lawmakers, such as the approval of new regimens or the exploring of possible regional policy mechanism of joint procurement from newly developed drugs.
The Global Fund also made a presentation on transitioning countries and numerous representatives of civil society exposed their strategy to work together with MPs to ensure the establishment of sustainable structures and the incorporation of services into the national budget.
By the end of the summit, MPs and civil society representatives visited the City Hospital of Kyiv to learn about TB treatment and care, and how they screen and refer potential cases to treatment. Wrapping up the agenda, the afternoon meetings brought together civil society representatives and civil servants from the Center for Public Health (part of the Ministry of Health) who discussed the challenges of TB care and the health system of Ukraine as a whole. They also shared experiences on the approval of new drugs, with specific focus on Bedaquiline, which changes the treatment for MDR-TB and represents an important milestone for the region.
In conclusion of the Summit, MPs agreed on making TB a priority in the political agenda and approving a working plan for members of the Global TB Caucus in the EECA region. All MPs reaffirmed that civil society advocacy is continuously needed for achieving groundbreaking results in fighting against TB.