Tashkent City, Uzbekistan, May 7, 2013
By: Abdunabi Kuchimov, Project HOPE Uzbekistan

Through the Dialogue on HIV and TB Project, Project HOPE is improving access to tuberculosis (TB) prevention and treatment among the most at-risk populations in four Central Asian countries:  Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.  This program is a five-year, USAID-funded partnership between Project HOPE and Population Services International, which provides direct outreach services and training to individuals at most risk of contracting the disease such as those living with HIV/AIDS.

Project HOPE Uzbekistan and its partners on the project held an event on March 30 to raise awareness about TB.  Representatives from Uzbekistan’s Republican TB Research Institute, TB dispensaries in Tashkent City and international nongovernmental organizations all participated in the event.  The event was unique because it involved a contest for creative poster designs about TB, comedic role-playing contests among health providers on TB-related issues and performances by national artists, which created a spring festive mood.

The opening ceremony was led by the head of the treatment department at Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Health who then turned over the microphone to the heads of USAID and WHO in Uzbekistan for welcoming speeches.  Representatives from the media were invited to the event, and they were able to interview leading specialists from international organizations working in the TB field.  The TB specialists were able to shed light on TB-related issues on television, radio and in print publications.

The contest winners were Nilyufar Ishonova, a nurse, and Dilbar Sodirova, a doctor from a Tashkent City TB dispensary.  They shared their impressions of the event.

“Such an event has never been conducted before - one that combines contests among all TB dispensaries with music and dancing.  One of the things which impressed us the most was the friendly atmosphere.  Everything was so interesting and exciting that nobody was dozing off.  The posters and role playing were a great way to communicate the problems and stigma associated with TB.  We were able to use not only our professional knowledge, but also our creativity,” said Ishonova and Sodirova.

“We were very anxious about our performance, rehearsing every day and perfecting every single detail.  We wanted to explain what TB is about from A to Z, using comedy so that people would pause to think about TB through laughter!”

“While the jury was deciding the contest winners, participants at the event continued to have fun dancing to the artists’ live performances. It was the first time we had gotten out of our offices in recent years. We found ourselves immersed in a real fairy tale!”

“It was very pleasing to learn that so many people heard about the event on the radio - especially the interviews of the TB specialists.  We were able to draw public attention to TB-related issues.   After the event we felt so inspired - as if we had grown wings!”

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