On May 15, EATG and TBpeople, EECA network of people with tuberculosis with support from the Stop TB Partnership, convened a meeting at the Belgian Senate to raise political awareness to the needs around the TB and TB/HIV epidemics. The meeting contributed to the discussion on patients’ perspectives on what should be done to end TB, including reaching targets in the Global Plan to End TB, World Health Organization End TB Strategy, and Sustainable Development Goals.
To build on the commitments made in the Parliamentarians’ Barcelona Declaration on TB, the meeting was attend by Senators Mr. Brotchi and Mr. Kanfaoui, members of the Parliament of the Brussels Capital Region, Ministry of Health, the Service of Infectious Diseases, and by our Belgian colleagues from the Damien Foundation and the Belgian Lung and Tuberculosis Association.
Mr. Kanfaoui highlighted issues around the growing number of HIV/TB cases in Europe in recent years, and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and the need for joint actions. A working group will be established for further follow up of the meeting action points. The meeting will promote the need to further invest in clinical research and address issues related to (MDR-TB).
With priority focuses on the need for investment in R&D and partnership with community and civil society, EATG and TBCAB provided information of key challenges for patients in Western and Eastern Europe, and in Central Asia. The proposed solutions include the registration and use of new diagnostic tools and medicines, patient-centered care and access to social benefits and nutrition, and working with patients to establish recognized networks of people with TB.
Given the role the Belgian scientists of the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp played in moving towards ending TB, such as research on bedaquiline, the newest drug to treat MDR-TB, and doctors from the Belgian Damien Foundation, who, together with the Insitute and other partners, have worked towards introduction of short 9-month regimen, Belgium should continue playing a role for an increased commitment to look cross (EU) border and support initiatives that address the needs in neighboring countries to the EU.