Azerbaijan is one of the 18 high priority countries for Tuberculosis (TB) Control in the WHO European Region and one of the 27 high MDR-TB high burden countries in the world. In 2012, Azerbaijan notified a total of 8140 TB cases, 2800 of them were estimated with MDR-TB.

As in the other former Soviet Union (FSU) countries, TB re-emerged as an important public health problem in 1990s and its burden remains high in Azerbaijan. The latest (for 2010) WHO-estimated TB incidence in the country is 110 per 100,000 population, which is 7th highest rate among 54 countries of the WHO European Region.

In Azerbaijan, the involvement of civil society organizations (CSOs) in treatment follow-up project for ex-prisoners by providing social and psycho-social support has allowed the country to achieve the best management and cure rates for MDR-TB in prisons in the former Soviet Union and one of the best worldwide.

However,  CSOs were not recognized as respected partners until 2011 across many of components of national TB control programmes and the voice of people affected by TB, and particularly TB patients, was not heard until a few months ago. These voices were also not represented on the Country Coordinating Mechanisms (CCM) and representatives of TB patients were not participating in neither TB NGO platform meetings nor National TB Working Group meetings.

Azerbaijan_CSOs_1On 27th of August 2014, patients’ organization «World Free of TB» (WFTB) Public Union held a meeting where it was decided to submit the application to CCM for getting the membership. On 11 September 2014, a meeting was held with all five members of WFTB organization, which was also attended by Soltan Mammadov, CCM vice-chair.

On 23rd of September 2014, the CCM meeting took place. After introducing Gulmira Akbarova, a TB patient representative, vice-chair Soltan Mammadov asked the CCM members to vote on including the representative of TB community into the CCM. No objections were noted, and WFTB patient organization was elected a member of CCM of Azerbaijan.
As a member of CCM, TB affected community is entitled to be represented on the CCM quarterly meetings, country TB working group meetings and monthly TB NGO platform meetings.

More information can be obtained from Elchin Mukhtarli at: elchin_mukhtarli@yahoo.com