In commemoration of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is proud of the shared gains with the Government of Uzbekistan achieved over the past two decades in the fight against this deadly but curable disease. USAID in partnership with the National TB Program introduced the most modern anti-TB medications and new treatment models to Uzbekistan, trained health care workers to implement international TB control standards, and improved the capacity of labs by introducing rapid diagnosis tools such as GeneXpert machines.
Uzbekistan has made great strides in reducing TB cases and deaths, thanks in part to the collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Health, the U.S. government, and international partners. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) data, in the last five years the estimated TB incidence rate in Uzbekistan decreased by 11% and multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB), a form of TB infection caused by bacteria resistant to at least two first-line anti-TB medications, rates dropped by 54%. Despite those positive achievements, MDR-TB continues to be a significant issue and Uzbekistan is among the top 30 countries in the world with the highest MDR-TB rates.
Since the start of its projects in Central Asia, in collaboration with national partners, USAID placed a great emphasis on providing innovative and cutting edge solutions against TB. USAID introduced molecular diagnostics technology such as GeneXpert that cut the diagnosis time for MDR-TB from 90 days to a few hours. A speedy diagnosis means that people can get treated without any delays, reducing the probability that they transmit it to others.
Furthermore, in 2017 USAID introduced a new TB drug, Bedaquiline, the first new class of antibiotics developed in more than 40 years that is designed to cure extensively drug-resistant (XDR-TB) and MDR-TB. Based on WHO Global TB report, in the past, Uzbekistan had a low treatment success rate for XDR-TB. For instance, in 2017 only 23% of people who received treatment for XDR-TB were cured, however, with the introduction of new TB drugs and regimens, that number doubled and half the patients with XDR-TB who received treatment were cured in 2018.
“We are proud of our continuous 20-year partnership with the Government of Uzbekistan in reducing the TB burden in Uzbekistan and our joint achievements”, said the U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan Daniel Rosenblum. “By putting patients at the heart of service delivery, engaging governments and communities, and most important, by relying on the hard work and dedication of so many people in Uzbekistan, we will be able to stop TB and together improve the health of the people of Uzbekistan”.
Last year, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the United States government, through USAID, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen the cooperation between two countries to stop the spread of TB, especially multi-drug and extensively drug-resistant types of TB in Uzbekistan. In March 2020, USAID launched its new five-year TB program that will provide targeted investment to further reduce the burden of tuberculosis on Uzbekistanis.
For twenty years, the United States worked closely with health practitioners and the Government of Uzbekistan to reduce the burden of tuberculosis by providing effective and accessible TB prevention, diagnosis, and treatment opportunities. The United States through USAID has provided Uzbekistan with more than $120 million in assistance to the health sector.
USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID’s work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience. To know more, visit: https://www.usaid.gov/central-asia-regional and USAID/Central Asia’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/USAIDCentralAsia.