In July, USAID, WHO, WHO Europe and TB Europe Coalition conducted a workshop to discuss how to more robustly engage civil society in the promotion of Patient Support Groups (PSG). Representatives from international organizations and the local NGO Intilish presented the Europe's End TB Strategy and discussed the strengths and weaknesses of Uzbekistan's current system of PSG. At the grass roots level, the USAID TB Control Program established PSGs, guided by trained health professionals in four regions of Uzbekistan to help TB patients and their families learn more about TB treatment and cope with the multiple challenges of the disease. The initial meetings have already brought together over 350 TB patients to address the stigmas, feelings of loneliness and isolation so common among TB patients and the number of patients completing treatment has increased as a result. According to one regional Ministry of Health official, the initial PSG meetings in his region are providing a unique chance to speak with TB patients about the problems and obstacles they face. In many instances, community leaders have become engaged in these PSGs and continue to raise awareness of TB in their communities. USAID will continue to support local solutions and a more inclusive approach allowing for additional avenues for dialogue, as this approach will help secure treatment for those that have been "missed" in the past.
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