The sixth meeting of the Working Group on MDR-TB was held in Tbilisi, Georgia, 20-22 September 2007
The First Lady of Georgia, Sandra Elisabeth Roelofs, a Stop TB Ambassador, was the special guest at the opening of the Stop TB Partnership MDR-TB Working Group meeting in Tbilisi in Georgia. In her welcoming speech she outlined her commitment to Stop TB and also addressed specific challenges facing TB control in Georgia.
"TB care and control need to be incorporated into primary health care. Particularly in the former Soviet countries, it used to be in a vertical system, isolated from the rest of the health system. We want to switch them to care by general practitioners. We also need to do a better job of following patients when they leave prison and enter the civilian health sector. We just received approval from the Green Light Committee for a new programme to do this. We cannot afford to lose track of people when they leave prison. They need to know where to go, to be welcomed, to receive incentives to complete treatment," she told delegates.
"TB is a social issue much more than just a health issue. TB concerns all layers of society. TB patients are often marginalized, deserted by their families. We should provide a social safety net and follow the health of the patient in their lives so they can be part of our society all the time, during treatment and after! I am talking on this from my experience as the Chair of the Country Coordinating Mechanism and as a Stop TB Partnership Ambassador. Now you can be ambassadors for Georgia - please feel free to come back!"
In the past six years, WHO has undertaken and supported major activities at all levels, to further strengthen basic TB control programmes as part of the response to multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB).
More than 170 delegates from countries, bilateral and multilateral agencies, and civil society, met to examine the progress in, and the challenges to, scaling up globally the management of MDR-TB, as per the Global Plan to Stop TB 2006-2015, and its operational "Global MDR-TB and XDR-TB Response Plan 2007-2008", launched in June 2007.
Major outcomes of the meeting include the declaration by the working group of a major crisis on drug procurement of second-line anti-TB drugs, due to acute shortage of quality-assured products and production capacity.
Delegates also agreed on several actions to take in order to solve the most urgent needs.
An updated research agenda on MDR-TB was presented and endorsed by the working group, to be widely distributed later this year.
Impressive results in demonstration sites for new TB diagnostic tools were presented by FIND and the National TB control programme of Lesotho.
Very successful experiences on community-based MDR-TB care confirmed that a patient-centred approach is not only necessary, but feasible, in the scale up of MDR-TB management.
Proceedings of the meeting will be published by the Stop TB Partnership later in the year.