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WHO works with Ukraine and Poland to deal with increase in TB cases

Ukrainian refugees in Poland
Ukrainian refugees in Poland Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Euronews
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The World Health Organisation is working closely with authorities in Ukraine and Poland to prevent TB from adding to the challenges faced by refugees.

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Health authorities in Ukraine and Poland are working closely with the World Health Organisation to contain rising numbers of tuberculosis cases among refugees who fled the Russian invasion.

Before the war, Ukraine had Europe's second-highest incidence of the infectious lung disease and its health system took a rigorous approach to treating it.

Poland, on the other hand, had a much lower rate and doctors are having to adapt.

"Previously, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis was not a major problem. The outbreak of the war has changed this,” said Stefan Wesołowski, Director General of the country’s Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases.

“There are now more than 100 cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, which is about a threefold increase compared to the previous situation.”

Tuberculosis, or TB, is the second most deadly infectious disease on the planet after COVID-19, infecting around 10 million people each year, resulting in the death of some 1.5 million annually.

The WHO has made tackling the global TB epidemic a priority since 2015.

"When people fled the war in Ukraine, there was a need to guarantee access to continuous treatment for TB and ensure rapid diagnosis for new TB cases,” said Dr. Nino Berdzuli, WHO Special Envoy for Ukraine Emergency Response.

“The Polish health authorities acted very swiftly to respond to this challenge. WHO Europe is working shoulder to shoulder with both them and the country’s health institutions."

When Russia invaded Ukraine, some four million people fled across the border into Poland, mostly women, children and elderly men. Around one million refugees are still there.

The WHO, together with Polish and Ukrainian authorities, are working to prevent TB adding to the many challenges they face.

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