Timo Ulrichs

WHO

Timo Ulrichs, microbiologist

I am a medical microbiologist and immunologist, and the focus of my scientific work is TB.

Together with other scientists and physicians in Berlin, I founded the Koch-Metchnikov Forum (KMF) as an initiative to further Russian–German scientific collaborative projects in infection control. I am responsible for the tuberculosis section within KMF.

The cooperation with our Russian partners now extends to the fields of epidemiology and public health, and we are currently working together with our partners in Siberia to implement a programme for childhood tuberculosis.

One example of how we are dealing with problems of tuberculosis control is a project we are working on in the Autonomous Republic of Tuva, in the southern part of Siberia. Tuva suffers from high incidence and prevalence of tuberculosis. To tackle the issue, KMF decided to undertake a study of the TB epidemic and make practical recommendations for combating it by building capacity locally and strengthening the health system.

The initial study investigated the causes of the epidemic in the region (genetic susceptibility, environmental conditions, nutrition, ways of transmission, etc.). This has led to recommendations for the improvement of local tuberculosis control and for capacity building in the fields of microbiological diagnostics, clinical follow-up with (often multidrug-resistant) tuberculosis patients and in surveillance and monitoring. The long-term partnership between KMF and Tuvinian tuberculosis authorities has created an atmosphere of mutual trust and strengthened the health system.

The concept of our cooperation projects – scientific projects first, followed by an exchange programme for scientists and students and funding for capacity building – aims to build up trust, forming the basis for implementation of WHO recommendations for tuberculosis control. In addition to our projects with Russian partners, we recently started collaborative projects with partners in the Republic of Moldova and Uzbekistan.

Tuberculosis control projects still form the core structure of the KMF, now a nongovernmental organization and an initiative of the St Petersburg Dialogue. The tuberculosis section is open for new partners within the WHO European Region.

KMF collaborates with other tuberculosis control expert centres to fulfil the commitments of the Berlin Declaration on Tuberculosis, adopted by the health ministers of the WHO European Region.