Last week, Romania approved the National Plan for Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis Prevention and Management 2012-2015. The approval of this plan has been praised by a number of Romanian civil society organisations who have been working tirelessly on tackling TB and, in particular, MDR-TB. Countries in the Eastern European and Central Asian region have some of the worst MDR-TB rates in the world, while Romania in particular has a treatment success rate far below the European average. Jonathan Stillo, a medical anthropologist researching TB in Romania, acknowledges the extent of the MDR-TB problem in Romanian when he writes:
Everyday in Romania, 77 people become ill with TB and four die [and] has an MDR-TB cure rate of 20% which is lower than many of the world’s poorest countries.
The action plan will be funded with €23 million over the four year period in order to tackle this shocking cure rate. The aim is to achieve a 75% treatment success rate by 2015. This will be done by improving treatment and strengthening Romania’s laboratory network, including an introduction of rapid antibiotic resistance testing.
In a press release, the Stop TB Partnership welcome the plan as an important step in TB prevention but assert that health authorities must continue to get involved. General Manager of the Romanian Angel Appeal Foundation, Dr. Silvia Asandi, states that a collaboration between the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and the NGO sector is needed so that MDR-TB will no longer be a threat for Romanian and European citizens and so that all patients can have access to rapid diagnosis, to quality, correct and complete treatment and to social support interventions.
You can read both Jonathan Stillo’s engaging report and the press release from the Stop TB Partnership in more detail here.