I am pleased to welcome participants to the 9th Regional TB Symposium, organised by Médecins Sans Frontières and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. Ukraine has committed itself to ending TB. Therefore, we are pleased to host the symposium in Kyiv and look forward to sharing our own experiences of the successes and challenges we face in the fight against this disease.

Here in Ukraine, we are working in partnership with MSF to implement innovative approaches to TB diagnosis and treatment. The Ministry of Health of Ukraine is procuring and improving access to the latest TB drugs in accordance with the recognised international best practises for TB care. We are reforming the health system and building a system where every patient with TB can access the best possible treatment without hospitalisation and with social support.

This forum presents an opportunity to map the prospects for wider implementation of new approaches in the future, not only in Ukraine but across the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region.

As the hosting country, Ukraine restates its commitment to ending TB and its determination to reach international goals, such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Political Declaration of the UN High-Level Meeting on TB.

We welcome healthcare providers, TB survivors, scientists, activists and decision-makers from the region and beyond: all key players who must collaborate locally, regionally and internationally. Together we must push towards a future in which all TB patients can access the best treatments available.

Cooperation between our national health programmes and other TB stakeholders is crucial for improving our mutual understanding of the situation and implementation of best practices. We embrace the opportunity to strengthen these partnerships and better understand the breadth of experiences and expertise shared among participants here.

Over the course of the TB Symposium, I hope that you will benefit from this unique opportunity to collaborate and work towards a future without TB.

Zoryana Skaletska
Minister of Health of Ukraine

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 9th Regional TB Symposium. We are delighted to be hosting this here in Kyiv for the first time.

Over the last nine years, this event has become a prominent date in the diaries of key TB stakeholders. It signifies an important moment to learn from our shared successes and challenges in fighting the world’s deadliest infectious disease.

MSF has been present in Ukraine since 1999. Since 2011, our work has included supporting the implementation of TB diagnosis and treatment programmes in Zhytomyr, Dnipro, and Donetsk. 

Today in Zhytomyr MSF is supporting MDR-TB patients on shorter all-oral treatment regimens. Alongside the Ministry of Health, we are implementing a model of care which emphasises strengthened support for treatment adherence, and we are investing in state-of-the-art laboratory facilities to speed up diagnostics in the region. These developments in Zhytomyr are positive, and we are pleased that the Ministry of Health and other actors are implementing improvements elsewhere in Ukraine and in the wider region. However, we know all too well that not enough progress has been made.

While the policies in place across Eastern Europe and Central Asia appear broadly to adopt the latest promising treatment options for TB patients on paper, it seems that this is not yet every patients’ reality. Many TB patients cannot access the latest treatments and are still subject to gruelling and painful treatments. They face extraordinary stigma, and vertical health structures represent a barrier to treatment for those with comorbidities, particularly HIV, as this model means that illnesses are treated separately, rather than holistically.

After a decade which has seen promising new tools, protocols, guidelines and drugs emerge, we must now identify pathways to overcome our shared challenges and implement the policies which we know will save lives. This represents the theme of this year’s TB Symposium: ‘From policy to practice.’

What use are these promising options for TB care if they remain only on paper, if medics cannot implement them, and patients cannot access them?

I invite all participants to engage with these issues, to think critically, and to challenge one another over the next two days.

Cristina Falconi
MSF Head of Mission in Ukraine

Previous Regional TB symposia

Have a look at the documentation websites of previous MSF Regional TB symposia:

2019: in Tashkent, Uzbekistan: New Frontiers: Innovation and Access

2018: in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan: Treating Patients, Not Disease: A People-Centered Approach

2017: in Minsk, Belarus: Tuberculosis in 2017: Searching for new solutions in the face of new challenges

2016: in Tbilisi, Georgia: Patients and TB: Improving treatment outcomes through a patient centred approach and access to new treatments

2015: in Yerevan, Armenia: New treatments and approaches to Tuberculosis

2013: in Dushanbe, Tajikistan: Scaling up and improving access to ambulatory and paediatric TB care in Central Asia and Eastern Europe

2012: in Bishkek, Kyrgysztan: TB Care - A Patient Centred Approach

2011: in Tashkent, Uzbekistan: Uniting to Scale up TB Care in Central Asia