Society Association HIV.LVLatvija +371 26062077 (ik dienu pl. 9 - 21)
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Dear Health Minister Belvics
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24.03.2015


MDR-TB, a strain of TB that does not respond to the standard treatment is much longer and more expensive to treat, remains a European cross-border health threat that requires an urgent regional response. The European Region continues to bear a quarter of the global MDR-TB burden, with some of the highest rates of drug-resistance among new TB cases. Indeed, fifteen of the twenty-seven WHO high MDR-TB burden countries are situated in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, while our MDR-TB cure rates are the lowest in the world.

Despite MDR-TB continuing to place a serious burden in countries across the region, including in Latvia, the financial resources needed to tackle the disease and the purely medical approach to the disease have not been adequate to tackle the emergence of resistance. Furthermore, many of the external donors that have provided tremendous amount of financial support in tackling not only TB and MDR-TB but also HIV in Eastern Europe are indicating withdrawal of their support from our region. Our region is becoming too rich to benefit from external support. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, for example, has implied that it will re-allocate resources away from key programmes in middle-income countries in the coming years. The impact of this gap in resources will be devastating for communities affected by the disease.

To address this problem, the Latvian Presidency of the European Union will be hosting the 1st Eastern Partnership Meeting on Tuberculosis on March 31st in Riga. This meeting presents an unprecedented political opportunity for all countries across the EU and in the Eastern Partnership to come together and commit to taking coordinated action on sustainability of TB programmes towards ending TB in the region.  By coming together with other Ministers of Health, Finance and Social Affairs at this meeting, you have the potential to change the trajectory of TB and MDR-TB in the region and to save millions of lives over the coming years.

As a member of civil society closely involved in the area of TB in Latvia, I am urging you to attend this meeting to ensure that Latvia takes strong commitment in the fight against TB along with other EU states and Eastern Partnership countries. 

 


 
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