Throughout March, the USAID Cure Tuberculosis Project (Cure Tuberculosis) and its partners organized a number of events to acknowledge World Tuberculosis (TB) Day and encourage conversations about TB prevention, treatment, and cure in the Kyrgyz Republic. Last year, most World TB Day events were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which presented particular challenges for people with TB, who are at higher risk for COVID-19 infection, and the health care workers supporting them. This year’s World TB Day events highlighted their perseverance in continuing treatment and providing care during the pandemic and renewed the call to action to prevent TB.
On March 24, the official date of World TB Day, Cure Tuberculosis organized a live panel of TB specialists to discuss the effects of COVID-19 on the TB situation in the Kyrgyz Republic. As in much of the world, the focus on COVID-19 diverted attention from diseases like TB, and case detection decreased, which may lead to an increase in TB cases. The panelists highlighted how, despite the barriers posed by lockdowns and other restrictions, health care workers came up with new ways to help people adhere to TB treatment, which can be long and difficult.
Kaktus Media broadcast the event on Facebook. Almost 2,000 people tuned in live and thousands more watched the video of the stream on Kaktus’ and other social media channels. The U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic, Donald Lu, prerecorded an address highlighting stories of people with TB who completed their treatment and the courageous health workers who supported them in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ambassador Lu also discussed his personal experience with the disease. Watch his address below.