World TB Day 2017: Timely TB identification and treatment are essential for successful recovery

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© UNDP Turkmenistan, Claire Ladavicius

Kyiv, March 22, 2017 – In 2016, approximately 29,000 Ukrainians were diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) that is 4.3% less than in 2015. While TB incidence is decreasing, multi-drug-resistant TB is on the rise. Timely identification and following the prescribed treatment plan is often an issue as well. Recent joint efforts of the Ministry of Health, MOH Public Health Center, UN agencies, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and civil society contributed to better access to health care and changing the approach by providing TB prevention and treatment outside of healthcare facilities.

Since 2015, to overcome previous disruptions to medicine supplies linked to corruption schemes in medical procurement, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is helping the Ministry of Health procure medicines and diagnostics for TB patients. Last year, the savings achieved thanks to international procurement allowed buying an additional 22% of products, and this year’s procurement cycle for TB medicines and diagnostics has just concluded.

Apart from timely TB identification and following the treatment plan, other issues include insufficient awareness about TB among healthcare providers, social service providers and the general population of Ukraine. Lack of information about the prevalence of TB, target populations and proper methods of screening together with improper medical management of this disease contribute to disease transmission, missed opportunities for prevention, early diagnosis and medical intervention, and poor health outcomes in infected people.

The Ministry of Health has conducted a series of steps to transform the whole approach to TB epidemic treatment and appropriate treatment in Ukrainian healthcare. Oksana Syvak, Deputy Minister of Health for European Integration, stated: “Together with partners, the Ministry has already developed a concept of National social program on fighting TB for 2017-2021, which is at the final stage of approval by central executive bodies. The launch of the program simultaneously with reform of the primary health care will allow to ensure efficient treatment of patients in line with modern international approaches.

Janthomas Hiemstra, UNDP Ukraine Country Director commented: “We see strong global efforts in fighting TB conducted through the Global Fund to Fight TB, AIDS and Malaria, StopTB partnership and other organizations. We call to continue those efforts. It is only partnerships both at the global and the local level that can lead us to the final goal – overcome TB and make sure people across the globe enjoy their right for a healthy life. As UNDP in Ukraine, we are contributing by ensuring access to high-quality treatment for the citizens of Ukraine.

According to Yana Terleyeva, the Head of TB Monitoring and Treatment Department of the MOH of Ukraine Public Health Center, in 2016 TB incidence rate in Ukraine constituted 67.6 per 100,000 persons, at the same time 22.5% of TB cases were not timely identified that results in the further spread of tuberculosis among the population.

"Today, TB is curable in Ukraine with anti-TB drugs treatment being absolutely free. Early detection and proper treatment adherence are key to a successful recovery. However, spread of multi-drug resistant forms of TB (MRTB) is becoming rampant. Treatment of such forms lasts longer and are less successful: Ukraine is among the five countries with the highest burden of MRTB. 8709 cases of MRTB were recorded in 2016. This situation should be treated as a crisis in the health sector ", - said Yana Terleyeva.

Dmitry Sherembey, head of the Charitable Organization "All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH": "We now have the hope of stopping the TB epidemic within the framework of the WHO strategy developed for the coming 18 years. Thanks to the efforts of the patient community and activists, last year we achieved the increase of the funding for state program for patients with tuberculosis by 140%. But much remains to be done - including protection of TB patients’ rights, providing them with maximum access to drugs and introducing the newest treatment protocols in Ukraine".

In 2016, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria allocated 392,5 mln Hryvnia of funding to Ukraine to fight the spread of TB, with another 162,5 mln expected for 2017.

UNDP is helping strengthen the capacity of the National Council on TB and HIV/AIDS in fulfilling its functions of the Country Coordination Mechanism in line with the requirements and recommendations of the Global Fund. UNDP launched the procurement for 22 out of 23 programs under the budget of 2016 as agreed under the contract with the Ministry of Health. In total, UNDP has completely finalized procurement under 8 and partly under 7 more programs for over 37% of 78 million USD provided to UNDP under agreement with the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

Background information

World Tuberculosis day is globally observed on March 24th.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. TB is spread from person to person through the air. According to WHO, in 2015 10.4 million people fell ill with TB and 1.8 million died from the disease (including 0.4 million among people with HIV). Over 95% of TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Contact information

Yevgeniy Zelenko, UNDP Ukraine Media Officer | +38 044 254 0035 |