PH-kazakhstan3The last week of October in Almaty, Kazakhstan, saw the first of a new type of training workshop.

The importance of achieving much greater engagement by civil society organisations (CSOs) in TB programmes has become an accepted and key part of current TB plans from WHO’s global End TB Strategy through to regional and national plans. To help achieve this, it has become relatively common to run capacity-building workshops for civil society activists.

The 2-day Almaty workshop looked at the other side – helping national TB programme (NTP) staff and senior TB clinicians better understand what CSOs are (and are not), what they can be expected to do, and reflect on how to work with them and help find funding so that they can undertake activities that will help the NTP.

A workshop outline was developed by Jamilya Ismoilova of Project Hope and Paul Sommerfeld of TB Europe Coalition (TBEC) and TB Alert. This was shown to the Kazakhstan NTP which saw it as potentially very helpful at the key moment they are now in, rapidly reducing TB bed numbers and increasing the proportion of patients receiving ambulatory care.

With Project Hope Kazakhstan handling the logistics, the NTP identifying participants, and funds being made available from Global Fund supported programmes managed by Project Hope and by TB-REP, the workshop was organised with just two months’ lead time.

On 24-25 October 2017 twenty five participants gathered. The largest group were Directors or Deputy-Directors of Oblast (Provincial) TB hospitals; others were from the NTP or Programme Implementation Unit (PIU) of the Ministry of Health; and a few were from civil society to provide examples of good practice and to explain the problems often faced by CSOs.

The programme was a mix of formal inputs:

What’s the variety of CSOs you might meet? What can they do in TB? What’s the picture of CSOs in Kazakhstan? Practical examples of CSO work, drawn from both Kazakhstan and a near neighbour, Tajikistan. The PIU/NTP perspective. The WHO ENGAGE approach and materials. The range of funds potentially available in Kazakhstan for CSOs.

With plenty of interactive sessions:PH-kazakhstan2

Sharing experiences from participants’ own work. Role play exploring CSO/Medical authority relations. Devising practical local initiatives to engage CSOs.

By the end the participants were very engaged and there was a truly positive atmosphere. It seemed that this new training had hit the right moment. National policy is pushing toward ambulatory care. All recognise that they need to engage CSOs more actively. So the doctors really wanted to learn and reflect on how they are or could be working with CSOs. Now we need to see whether over the next 6 months, some of those plans developed in the workshop are actually put into practice with positive impact on patient detection and support.

This first success encourages us to set up similar workshops in other countries. TBEC is lucky to have funding from the Humana Foundation to run three such events during 2018. If you think such an event might be welcome in your country, contact Paul Sommerfeld on paul.sommerfeld@tbalert.org.

by Paul Sommerfeld


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