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By becoming a TBEC member, you agree to endorse the values and the principles of the TB Europe Coalition, and agree with its membership rights and responsibilities.

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Although TBEC covers all 53 WHO Europe region countries, it is no secret that the majority of the TBEC’s advocacy and capacity building activities are focused on 18 high priority countries in the region, specifically, the Baltic states, Romania, Bulgaria and Eastern Europe and Central Asia region. So much so that it was not particularly surprising that as part of the TBEC member skills analysis and annual membership surveys, TBEC received numerous invitations from its few members in the region to visit and engage pro-actively in TB care in the Balkan countries.

Thus, when an opportunity to organise a joint capacity building workshop with the European Respiratory Society (ERS) presented itself, TBEC was keen to take a chance and use it for a slightly “experimental” regional workshop in Zagreb, Croatia.  As often happens, the “experiment” paid off tenfold, and on 16-17 April, TBEC together with ERS successfully held the first-ever regional workshop in the region on “Enhancing TB advocacy, people-centred care and collaboration in TB care between civil society organisations and healthcare professionals across the Balkan states”.

Sameer Sah stands at a podium facing the camera Graham Bothamley stands at podium, ready to present

For TBEC, it was a workshop with a lot of “First-Evers”: 1) the first time TBEC had ever partnered with ERS to organize a capacity building workshop; 2) the first time TBEC had ever organized a capacity building workshop in the Balkan region; and 3) the first time TBEC had ever organized a regional capacity building workshop, mixing together healthcare professionals with representatives from civil society organizations.

Over the two days, twelve participants with different backgrounds, from TB doctors to coordinators of national TB programmes to representatives of civil society organizations, from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia discussed and compared the key issues in TB prevention, diagnosis, care and outreach in their own countries.

A woman stands at a window, covered in posters. People are sat around tables looking at her. Participants sit around table and discuss

Furthermore, the participants also discussed 1) the international standards in quality people-centred TB care – what is or is not available in their home countries; 2) the impact of transition from the Global Fund to national funding on NGO engagement in TB advocacy and service delivery, and why NGO engagement is useful in the first place; 3) opportunities for collaboration with various regional and international TB networks such as ERS, TBEC and the Global TB Caucus. Throughout the discussions, the participants were actively engaged in both passive and active learning – ranging from individual presentations to group discussions to role-play activities, amongst others.

A man and a woman sit together deep in thought. She makes notes on a paper.Group of people sat in a circle discussing

Nevertheless, the main focus remained the development of a specific action plan for further engagement at national and regional level. During the final day of the workshop, the participants developed and presented three different action-plans that could be used at the national level to achieve specific TB advocacy goals. The action plans detailed various activities in national advocacy, capacity building and project management that can be easily added to or used in participants’ national work plans to enhance the quality of people-centred TB care in the country.

Group of participants in discussion U shaped table filled with participants

Although the results of the workshop either at national level or via regional collaboration are yet to be seen, TBEC believes this workshop is an important step towards increased engagement with civil society in the region, especially with high-incidence countries such as Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

If you would like to learn more about the workshop, please have a look at our country workshop report here or contact us via coordinator@tbcoalition.eu 

Photos by Sameer Sah, TB Alert


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