img_20161206_135607A group of advocates passionate about the fight against TB in Europe and beyond went on an advocacy tour around EU and other institutions this early December. The main goal of the initiative was to raise more awareness among policy makers about Tuberculosis and to advocate for sustainable health systems and funding for TB. The advocacy tour is part of TB Europe Coalition’s long-standing fight against TB and support for local communities and organizations working in Europe, Central Asia and Russia. Fanny Voitzwinkler, Anete Cook and Gian Marco Grindatto for TB Europe Coalition together with Momchil Baev for the National Patients’ Organization of Bulgaria had a busy schedule on convincing MEPs and other officials of the importance of ensuring sustainable health systems and continued support for TB programmes in the broader European region.

As economies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are growing, countries are becoming ineligible to development assistance, including donor support to their health systems and TB and HIV programs. Such is the fate of countries like Bulgaria and Romania. Political and technical support still remains essential during transition processes to ensure investments to date are not lost and services continued.

The first meeting of the advocacy tour was held at the Bulgarian permanent representation to the EU, to discuss how health will be featured in the upcoming Bulgarian presidency that will start in January 2018. The group of advocates presented the overall work of TB Europe Coalition as well as the challenges that are faced by national governments of countries that, like Bulgaria, are facing transition processes in health programs, proposing concrete and effective initiatives that could be adopted.

During the meetings with MEPs (Mr. Emil Radev and Mr. Andrey Kovachev) and their offices, advocates raised political issues and concrete actions that can be undertaken from the side of the Parliament. For instance, under the Slovak presidency, EU Health Ministers on 3-4th of October, agreed on the need to develop an integrated EU Policy framework on HIV, TB and Hepatitis, the scope of which should be expanded to neighboring countries. Now it is up to the European Commission to respond, and develop such a framework.

MEP. Emil Radev assured that he is ready to support initiatives to convince the EC to bring up the issue of the integrated policy Framework and he would be happy to work on that together with MEPs from various political groups within the Parliament. Only that will ensure greater attention by the Commission on that matter.

TB Europe Coalition with its local partners will follow up with the members of Parliament to ensure their greater involvement in the advocacy initiative.

To read more about TB Europe Coalition click here.

To read more about National Patients’ Organization, click here.


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