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International News

Officials Downplay Concerns of Ukraine's TB Epidemic

March 25, 2004

Ukraine marked World TB Day on Wednesday by declaring the nation's TB epidemic under control, reporting that four times fewer infections were recorded in 2003 than in the previous year. First Deputy Health Minister Olha Lapushenko said the decrease was due to better surveillance backed by a doubling of government funding since 2002 that has eased diagnosis and treatment.

Last year, the Health Ministry received $480,000 from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, while the World Bank agreed to a $60 million loan to help the cash-strapped government implement a comprehensive prevention, diagnosis, and epidemic control program.

But Lapushenko also noted that some 130 clinics across the country of 48 million people do not have sewers, so TB-infected waste enters the general wastewater system. And Deputy Health Minister Volodymyr Zahorodniy observed that 70 percent of Ukraine's predominantly Soviet-era medical equipment needs replacement.

Official figures show some 670,000 Ukrainians are infected with TB, but the International Red Cross estimates that figure could actually be three times higher. The post-Soviet economic meltdown in Ukraine has degraded the state-run heath care system and contributed to the county's having one of the fastest-growing infection rates.

Meanwhile, the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) released a statement Wednesday indicating that the spread of TB among Ukraine's prisoners continues to be a major concern. ICRC said it was working with programs in the ex-Soviet republics of Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, but it said numerous prisoners were released before completing treatment, bringing "the disease back with them into society." ICRC called for better cooperation between prison authorities and those coordinating national TB programs.

Back to other news for March 25, 2004

Adapted from:
Associated Press

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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