Setting up integrated and patient-centered TB care systems is one of the most important tasks of the TB-REP 2.0 program. To this end, collaboration between the participating countries can greatly contribute to ensuring equal access to modern DR-TB diagnostics, drugs and treatment regimens. That is why the WHO Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe) and the Center for Health Policies and Studies (PAS Center) have initiated the establishment of an inter-country network of practitioners, which should become a regional platform for collaboration between specialists from national agencies involved in regulating and procuring medicines and ensuring pharmacovigilance, focusing on three thematic areas:
The concept of the Network was first introduced to healthcare and TB specialists of 11 participating countries at the Regional Technical Consultation Meeting entitled “Transitioning to the latest WHO Policy Guidance on drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB)”, which was held in Kiev in December 2019. The meeting was attended by over 50 participants which included heads of national TB control programs, procurement, monitoring and evaluation specialists, drug management experts and other responsible persons whose activities are related to the detection, diagnosis and treatment of TB.
As Liliana Karaulan, TB-REP 2.0 Program Coordinator (PAS Center) said in her presentation, the aim of the network is to bring together the technical resources present at the TB-REP 2.0 country level and foster rapid exchange of knowledge and practical expertise on aDSM, as well as regulatory and procurement aspects that are required to ensure sustainable access to TB medicines. The members of the network should act as agents for stimulating systemic changes to introduce new DR-TB treatment regimens at the country level and to facilitate the implementation of measures within the framework of the plan to transition to new treatment regimens in accordance with their area of expertise and with technical support from colleagues.
The meeting participants also included specialists nominated by the ministries of health in their countries to participate in the work of the Network. They approved the initiative for the Network’s establishment, considering a virtual alliance to be a relevant and effective tool for communication between specialists and exchange of experience. The network will allow specialists from government agencies, such as national drug regulatory agencies, national drug procurement agencies, or other similar bodies, depending on the context of the country, to discuss and find solutions to the pressing problems that EECA countries face when they register and procure anti-TB drugs, as well as ensure their safe use.
The TB-REP 2.0 program will provide operational support for the network activity, including moderating the virtual network and online communication, as well as the exchange of experience between countries.