On 9 August 2017, an official ceremony was held to sign the Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation between the Sumy Regional State Administration and the International Charitable Foundation “Alliance for Public Health” (hereinafter – Alliance) within implementation of relevant state programs in response to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and viral hepatitis. By signing this memorandum, the regional administration demonstrated its deep interest in the implementation of programs to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other socially significant diseases and in further cooperation of local authorities and civil society organizations.
As one of the official co-implementers of the activities stipulated in the National Targeted Social Program in Response to HIV/AIDS in 2014–2018, Alliance makes a significant contribution to overcoming the epidemics in Sumy region, in particular within the program “Investing for Impact Against Tuberculosis and HIV” supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. In particular, in 2016 technical support and financial resources were provided for the implementation of integrated interventions in response to the spread of such diseases in the region in the total amount of over UAH 13 million 697 thousand. The programs implemented in the region to prevent socially dangerous diseases among key affected populations bring positive results – over 11 thousand people are covered with prevention services, and there is a clear dynamics towards reducing the level of risky behavior among the key populations. Long-term implementation of the prevention programs in Sumy region (since 2001) allowed achieving high safe behavior indicators back in 2011 and maintaining the achieved indicators within the next years. Retention of programs, which include activities in such areas, and their adequate financing are the basis of stabilization of the epidemic in the region. An important factor is allocation of funds from the regional budget to provide social support to the OST patients. Such support is provided by the Club Shans NGO though the social contracting mechanism.
In the region, a program of medical and social support of patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis is implemented, with a cure rate higher than the average rate in Ukraine (87% success rate as compared to the average treatment success rate in Ukraine of 47.7%). Within the project to expand access to efficient hepatitis C treatment, 81 members of the key populations received treatment with direct-acting antivirals. Treatment success rate of such new antivirals is over 90%, which is almost twice as high as of the old regimens.
However, taking into account reduction in the scope of international donor funding, on the one hand, budget restrictions and further commitments of the state, in particular towards the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, on the other hand, effective cooperation and understanding with local authorities is of great importance to ensure further implementation of the integrated programs in response to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other socially dangerous diseases.
That is why support from the side of Sumy Regional State Administration and personal leadership of its head – Mykola Klochko, who realizes that the effective response to the epidemics should be grounded on the productive cooperation of governmental authorities and civil society organizations, which have a valuable long-term experience in prevention activities aimed at the key populations, present real prospects of countering the dangerous epidemics.
Mykola Klochko, head of the Sumy Regional State Administration, started the ceremony with the following statement: “I am confident that only effective changes at the local level can enable sectoral reforms at the national level, in particular, the healthcare reform. At the same time, the health of the nation depends on the efforts focused on key populations. I realize that the document that we signed today with the Alliance for Public Health will not resolve the issue completely, but I am sure that its provisions will ensure better access of such people to qualified medical, social and psychological support and will bring down risks of the spread of socially dangerous diseases.”
At the ceremony, the Executive Director of Alliance for Public Health, Andriy Klepikov, said: “Alliance makes a significant contribution to the response to the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis and hepatitis in the region – in 2017 it is almost UAH 12 million. Sumy region is an example both in terms of controlling the epidemics thanks to the effective prevention efforts and in financing the social support services provided by civil society organizations. The Memorandum signed today marks the results of cooperation and defines further priority areas of our activities – increasing HIV case finding, bringing up the number of patients who receive ART and OST services and expanding the innovative treatment of hepatitis.”