Today’s guest blog comes from Mikhail Volik and Zhi Jun He, Lilly MDR-TB program officers in Russia and China, respectively.
The WHO includes 22 countries on its list of high TB burden countries. Among these are China and Russia with 800,000 and 90,000 active TB cases respectively that are registered annually by the national TB control systems. The two countries are increasing bilateral exchanges in many areas including diplomacy, military, business and culture. On the health front and by request of China’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership helped to organize an exchange meeting of the leading TB/MDR-TB experts in Moscow. This was the first visit by high level Chinese experts on MDR-TB control and prevention to the Russian capital. A key topic of interest for both countries during the meeting was establishing effective MDR-TB infection controls to prevent the spread of the disease at early stages.
Well over a year in planning and hosted by the Central TB Research Institute (TBRI) of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, the China CDC delegation visited the institute, toured its clinical and diagnostic laboratory, joined a conference organized by the Russian TB Society on TB and HIV infection, and met with other organizations that are part of the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership, including WHO. According to Mr. Lui Jianjun, China CDC’s Deputy Director General, the project implemented by Partners in Health in Voronezh, Tomsk, and Petrozavodsk was “one of the most impressive.”
Though the visit was brief, it included many valuable learnings from the national TB program in Russia. The Chinese delegation was very impressed by the government’s commitment to TB/MDR-TB work and to the direct to patient (DTP) program. Because of the mutual benefit from sharing insights, the representatives of both countries agreed to continue finding ways to exchange learnings and best practices.
“We hope that the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership provides not only innovative solutions to tackle MDR-TB in particular countries, but also gives an opportunity to partners from different countries to share the best practices and, therefore, help fill the current gaps with immediate actions,” said Dr. Mikhail Volik.
“I strongly believe this visit is a good standing point for future bilateral exchange and even multilateral exchange among the key countries of the Phase III Partnership, “said Zhi Jun Peter He.
All Russian organizations that presented their results during the visit were invited by the Chinese delegation to visit China in the next years.