Vasiliy Knyazevich, the Minister of Health of Ukraine, held a meeting with heads of regional health departments, chief doctors of sanitary and epidemiological stations, scientists, chief TB doctors, heads of anti-TB programmes and public organizations. The meeting discussed urgent issues of contemporary phthisiology, in particular, issues related to activities aimed at combating TB epidemic.
Reduction of TB incidence and death rates in Ukraine is one of the national top-priority challenging objectives. Although indicators for the last two years reflect reduction in TB incidence, it does not mitigate concerns about the disease.
"Tragic challenges of socially dangerous infections, such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis make everyone realize their danger. In near future we have to change the current situation drastically for the sake of Ukraine's future," Vasiliy Knyazevich said.
Although fight against tuberculosis has been identified as one of the top priorities in the areas of healthcare and social development, TB incidence rate almost doubled over the last decade. Ukraine sees four TB cases and one TB death registered every hour.
The whole world, not only Ukraine alone, has faced such threatening TB situation at the dawn of the new millennium. Still, Ukraine ranks among countries with high TB burden, according to WHO findings, and has higher TB incidence rate than most European countries.
HIV/AIDS epidemic favours spread of tuberculosis epidemic. It is recognised that the main reason for increase in death rates among TB-infected people. In addition, high death rates result from expansion of chemoresistant and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis which is hard to cure.
Up to date, Ukraine's phthisiology is perhaps in the worst situation than any other area of medicine and needs immediate decisive measures. Scientists, TB doctors, epidemic sanitary and epidemiological services, medical establishments and the public must focus all their resources on the fight against epidemics of socially dangerous infections.
Participants of the meeting discussed key issues and ways of creation ofeffective TB prevention and treatment system: improvement in TB diagnostics and early detection, implementation of international TB control standards, improvement in TB treatment and medical staff training, supply of highly-skilled medical staff to anti-TB centers, social protection and material support to the medical staff, development of awareness-raising system among population for TB prevention and treatment, social promotion of healthy life style, etc.
According to WHO data, every year sees over 8.9 million of new TB cases and 1.7 million of deaths caused by the disease. Total number of TB-infected people is 50-60 million. Tuberculosis ranks the first among infectious and parasitic diseases in terms of death rates (80%).
According WHO criteria, TB epidemic has been announced in Ukraine since 1995.
In 2006, Ukraine for the first time throughout the epidemic years managed to reduce TB incidence by 1.1%. The incidence rate made 83.2 per 100,000.
In 2007 (info as of 1 January 2008) total number of TB-infected Ukrainian citizens went down 4.1% from the previous year and made 37,095, or 79.8 per 100,000. Active TB incidence among children aged under 18 went down 7.7%, and made 1,224, or 14.3 per 100,000.
The highest incidence rates were registered in Kherson Oblast (151.4 per 100,000), Nikolayev Oblast (104.2 per 100,000), Lugansk Oblast (103.5 per 100,000), Kirovograd Oblast (101.9 per 100,000), Donetsk Oblast (94.7 per 100,000), and Dnepropetrovsk Oblast (94.1 per 100,000).
10,423 died of tuberculosis (average toll made 22.4 per 100,000 according to preliminary data)
Ukraine has a new "Nationwide Anti-TB Programme for 2007-2011" in place (adopted by Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on 8 February 2007 as a law).