Russian Federation’s High-level Working Group celebrates 20 years of tackling TB and inspiring HIV working groups

WHO

The High Level Working Group for Tuberculosis

The Russian Federation’s High-level Working Group (HLWG) on tuberculosis (TB) marked 20 years of collaboration between national and international experts at a meeting in August 2019.

With a sharp focus on the goals of the Tuberculosis Action Plan for the WHO European Region 2016–2020 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the meeting provided an opportunity to reaffirm commitment to improving:

  • TB prevention;
  • TB treatment outcomes, including for drug-resistant forms;
  • infection prevention and control;
  • the quality of laboratory diagnostics; and
  • awareness among the population, including by reducing stigma.

Collaboration to conduct research, prepare publications and exchange experience with international partners were among the topics of discussion. The agenda also included issues such as case finding and HIV coinfection.

Assembled partners then looked to the future, identifying priorities and next steps for WHO and the Russian Federation for the remainder of 2019 and beyond. The next round of consultations is planned for December 2019.

Organized by the WHO Country Office in Moscow, Russian Federation, the meeting brought together more than 20 stakeholders from different sectors, including representatives from the Ministry of Health, the Federal Penitentiary Service, the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing, scientific and research centres, and international organizations such as the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the International Labour Organization, the International Organization for Migration and the World Bank. Health practitioners and national professional officers also attended.

In addition to facilitating the coordination of activities and exchange of best practices, these partners work together to support country implementation and adapt the latest WHO policy guidance for TB prevention and care.

High-level Working Group on HIV takes inspiration from colleagues working on TB

The HLWG on TB served as a model for the establishment of the HLWG on HIV in 2017. This group works on epidemiological surveillance, HIV testing and prevention, and HIV treatment by means of 3 thematic working groups.

Two of these thematic working groups held back-to-back meetings following the meeting of the HLWG on TB. They discussed issues including:

  • the importance of early HIV diagnosis, prevention and testing;
  • the introduction of new diagnostic technologies and innovative HIV prevention interventions;
  • the harmonization of HIV epidemiological definitions and criteria;
  • the strengthening of cooperation of national health authorities and international experts specializing in developing response interventions to the HIV epidemic: and
  • viral hepatitis and TB coinfection.

Dr Melita Vujnovic, WHO Special Representative to the Russian Federation, expressed optimism regarding the long-term goals of the meeting: “Through a well tailored, multidisease, multidisciplinary, multistakeholder effort, by leaving no one behind, by ensuring universal health coverage and a suitable mix of prevention and care, and by addressing of social determinants, these 3 diseases can be brought down and ultimately eliminated.”