Earlier this year, the Alliance for Public Health, Ukraine, organized the TB Regional Eastern Europe and Central Asia Project (TB REP) for Health System Transformation and Financing Reform to Scale up Drug-Resistant TB Control meeting in Istanbul on behalf of the TB Europe Coalition.

This two-day meeting gathered over 30 TB-REP project partners from 11 Eastern European and Central Asian countries and provided the ideal space to share best practices, strengthen partnerships and identify next steps for regional TB advocacy.

During the group sessions, discussions focused on the impact of the STREAM trial in the region and how the advent of (SSTR) for MDR-TB could influence tuberculosis care and adherence to treatment. STREAM community advisory board (CAB) coordinator in Moldova, Oxana Rucsineanu (SMIT NGO), and STREAM community engagement officer Svetlana Doltu, discussed the importance of short treatment regimens for TB patients. “The STREAM clinical trial is designed to compare treatment regimens for people affected by drug resistant strains of tuberculosis and find the most efficient regimen of the treatment. We all know that the period of treatment takes its toll on people’s adherence to the regimen and so it is important to identify an effective, shorter treatment regimen.”

Participants also discussed the upcoming High-Level Meeting (HLM) on TB which will take place on 26th September in New York, and identified next steps for regional advocacy, agreeing to work towards better involving affected communities in research and innovation in the field of TB treatment and control. The importance of community engagement was highlighted as an integral issue to be raised at the upcoming HLM. The 11 participating countries collectively drafted a letter to the leaders attending the HLM in which the major key asks of the global TB community were reiterated. It is hoped that civil society partners will use this letter in pre HLM meetings and briefings and that it will provide a foundation for future in-country advocacy and TB control efforts.

The STREAM Clinical Trial is part of the TREAT TB project, a multi-year project funded by USAID, which seeks to contribute to new knowledge regarding shorter, more tolerable treatment regimens for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) through clinical trials of priority research questions, targeted operational research benefitting global, regional, and country TB control efforts.