Health ministers from eastern Europe and central Asia adopted on 3 November in Minsk, Belarus, a consensus statement on HIV and tuberculosis (TB) treatment for all, calling for expanded and rapidly scaled-up access to affordable, quality-assured medicines.
Representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan endorsed the statement at the conclusion of a two-day regional consultation.
Governments committed to strengthen regional cooperation in order to advance access to affordable and quality medicines and deliver more cost-effective, equitable and sustainable solutions for common challenges by intensifying efforts through regional solidarity, shared responsibility and political leadership.
The statement underlines that countries are ready to use all available tools to reduce the price of life-saving medicines, address intellectual property issues and their alignment with national legislation, support the local manufacturing of medicines and optimize medicine regimens in line with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.
More than 160 participants, including representatives of ministries of health, national experts, representatives of the pharmaceutical industry and partners from international organizations and civil society, participated in the regional consultation.
Eastern Europe and central Asia is home to the fastest growing HIV epidemic and the highest levels of multidrug-resistant TB in the world. Expanding antiretroviral therapy eligibility based on the WHO recommendations to treat people who test positive for HIV as soon as possible is expected to have significant cost implications for the HIV response in all countries of the region.
The event was hosted by the Ministry of Health of Belarus with support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, UNAIDS and the Stop TB Partnership.
“It is a historic moment in the regional HIV and tuberculosis response. By endorsing the Minsk statement, eastern European and central Asian countries reaffirmed their commitment to the Political Declaration on Ending AIDS.”
Luiz Loures Deputy Executive Director, UNAIDS
“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is committed to helping countries get the most value from their investments to prevent and treat HIV and tuberculosis. Such regional cooperation is a pragmatic approach to achieving economies of scale and ensuring access to life-saving health products, which will enable countries to save more lives and reach more people.”
Mark Dybul Executive Director, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
“This is a timely and important conference for countries in eastern Europe and central Asia that confront still expanding epidemics of HIV and drug-resistant tuberculosis. All countries in the region should urgently use existing mechanisms—reviewed at this event—that can lead to significant decreases in the prices of medicines.”
Michel Kazatchkine United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
“The Global Drug Facility (GDF) will continue to support country programmes, using all sources of funding and various mechanisms of engagement, including participation in local tenders, so they can access quality assured medicines and diagnostics at affordable prices. GDF will continue to play a key role in increasing access to and scaling up the use of new anti-tuberculosis medicines, including bedaquiline and delamanid, and new paediatric formulations and the rapid introduction of shorter drug-resistant tuberculosis treatment regimens.”
Lucica Ditiu Executive Director, Stop TB Partnership
“Undoubtedly, the adoption of the Minsk statement is a guarantee of our countries’ openness and readiness to share experience and work together in achieving sustainable development and commitments to the Political Declaration on Ending AIDS and the World Health Organization tuberculosis plan in eastern Europe for 2016–2020.”
Vasiliy Zharko Minister of Health, Belarus