GuadalajaraThe Union World Conference on Lung Health (organized by the International Union against Lung Disease and Tuberculosis) is the world’s largest gathering of clinicians and public health workers, health programme managers, policymakers, researchers and advocates working to end the suffering caused by lung disease, with a special focus on the challenges faced by the low- and middle-income countries.

This year the 48th Union World Conference on Lung Health was held on 11-14 October in Guadalajara, Mexico. On October 12, one of the symposiums was focused on the topic of civil society and community engagement in countering TB. This symposium familiarized participants with the regional TB-REP project aimed at provision of comprehensive people–centred care to the patients with TB. During the symposium, the participants from the EECA region and other countries discussed the experience of joint work aimed to improve TB diagnostics and treatment, expansion of social and psychological support to the patients and their families, as well as the TB-REP progress in general. Stela Bivol – Director of the Center for Health Policies and Studies, Moldova and Paul Sommerfeld – Member of TBEC Steering Committee and Chair of TB Alert, United Kingdom co-chaired and facilitated the session.

A number of presentations set the scene for the discussion. Stela Bivol, the Director of the Principal Recipient of the Grant, presented key goals and activities of the TB-REP project, paying special attention to the role of each partner in the project implementation and the process of transition to people-centered care.

Yuliya Chorna, Project manager: TB Advocacy of the ICF “Alliance for Public Health” acting on behalf of TB Europe Coalition, in her presentation “Civil society response for bringing the patient in the center of TB care” reflected the main goals of the TB-REP project and focused specifically on the component of supporting TB advocacy activity of the civil society.

Particular attention was paid to process of building partnerships with key in-country and international stakeholders. Successful example of cooperation between the state representatives and civil society in Ukraine was presented by Serhiy Kiral, a member of the Parliament of Ukraine. In his speech, Serhiy Kiral highlighted the fact that Ukraine has entered the era of new politicians who are ready to change the system for the better. They are open to innovations and ready to support the civil society work. To fight the epidemic, it is important to ensure the synergy between the policymakers and civil society representatives, and, building upon this statement, Serhiy Kiral provided recommendations on successful participation and engagement of the MPs of different countries into this process.

Oxana Rucsineanu, the head of the National Association of Tuberculosis Patients in Moldova (SMIT) in her presentation raised the issue of the activities aimed at increasing the patients’ adherence to treatment and ensuring the civil society sustainability. The presentation was based on the experience of the abovementioned organization, which is engaged in the advocacy for the rights of people affected by TB, as well as increasing the awareness of the general population and the vulnerable groups about the TB and the available treatment and monitoring options through informing, training and counselling.Guadalajara 2

Safar Naimov, TB Prevention projects manager, Secretary of the Coalition «STOP TB Partnership, Tajikistan», in his presentation “Defining the degree of people-centeredness of TB care in Eastern Europe and Central Asia from patient perspective” presented results of the survey conducted by the TB People organization, the first network of people with experience of TB in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The research allowed detecting a number of gaps in the TB diagnostics and treatment. Thus, in the opinion of the survey participants, untimely detection or inaccurate TB diagnostics may lead to inappropriate treatment prescription; lack of proper counselling makes the acceptance of the diagnosis more difficult for patients and undermines their motivation for treatment; side effects experienced by patients are often overlooked because of weak monitoring, as well as serious problems with the concomitant diseases management.

Entailing dynamic discussion at the end, the symposium was a unique opportunity to learn about the active role of the civil society in the comprehensive regional project, hear the voice of the people affected by TB and obtain practical recommendations on how to enlist the support of the MPs to achieve the common goal of ending the TB epidemic.

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The activity has been made possible with funding provided by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GF) through the grant TB Regional EECA Project (TB-REP) on Strengthening Health Systems for Effective TB and DR-TB Control. The author’s (authors’) views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the GF, Principal Recipient and other Partners of the TB-REP project.


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