Interview with Tetiana Sprynsian, Vice Director of INCURE

INCURE, the Communicable Diseases Intensive Care Association Civic Union, was set up in Ukraine to share best practices in TB treatment. In this interview we asked Tetiana Sprynsian, Vice Director, about their recent activities and upcoming campaigns.

INCURE, the Communicable Diseases Intensive Care Association Civic Union, was set up in Ukraine to share best practices in TB treatment. In this interview we asked Tetiana Sprynsian, Vice Director, about their recent activities and upcoming campaigns.

Could you introduce us to your organisation – when and why were you set up?

INCURE or the Communicable Diseases Intensive Care Association Civic Union was founded in 2014 in Ukraine, where most medical practices were developed according to Soviet experiences. The National Institute of Phthisiology and Pulmonology F.G. Yanovsky decided to establish INCURE in order to share best practices in severe TB treatment.

TB is one of 10 major causes of death, but who are the people behind these catastrophic numbers? They are those with severe TB, who die every day in intensive care units without a chance of proper treatment. This fact is what started our organisation. We need to give these people the chance to survive in every country.

What are the main issues for people with lung conditions living in Ukraine?

The biggest problem is that Ukrainian people are not familiar with the fact that many health conditions can be prevented or caught and treated early. Since Ukraine became an independent state, medical check-ups are no longer mandatory. People tend to neglect their lung symptoms and are often diagnosed with a condition when it has reached an advanced stage.

What are INCURE’s main activities?

INCURE works with the international scientific community, doctors, health service managers, national healthcare systems, the World Health Organization (WHO) and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) all over the world. We share knowledge about the newest treatment approaches; we are always open to new information; and we study how people with severe TB are treated in different countries. We promote our ideas to all international organisations that might help us to solve this issue. Unfortunately, as a small organisation, it can be difficult to draw attention to your ideas. However, we are very motivated and succeed every day, and we collaborate with other organisations in order to reach our goal.

Here are some of our recent achievements:

  • INCURE participated in the 20th Conference of The Union Africa Region in Accra, Ghana, where key TB specialists of the region and WHO representatives signed a joint agreement that supports our mission.
  • At the 48th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Guadalajara, Mexico, INCURE organised a side-session where the Union President Jeremiah Chakaya Muhwa supported our idea and lectured on the topic ‘Severe TB: death rate and the main reasons’.
  • On 4 June 2018, INCURE participated in the interactive civil society hearing on the fight to end TB at the UN headquarters in New York and raised the problem of severely ill patients.

Could you tell us about the scientific journal INCURE founded with the Ukraine National Academy of Sciences?

The Ukrainian Chemotherapeutic Journal was originally founded in 1999; but for a number of reasons it was not issued regularly. We decided to participate in its revival and help pave its way for international recognition. The main idea behind the journal is to give Ukrainian scientists the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with the world.

You recently held some public awareness events for World TB Day. Could you tell us more about these activities?

World TB Day was a good chance for us to be seen, so we organised a press conference dedicated to TB. Ukraine has one of the highest rates of multidrug-resistant TB, and while services are doing their job by treating people once they have been diagnosed, it is important to keep people aware of the problem. We want to encourage timely diagnosis and to encourage affected people to continue their treatment course.

What other campaigns or activities do you have coming up?

Injectable forms of TB drugs are crucial to treat severe forms of the condition, but are still not available in most countries. We are currently focused on getting injectable forms of first-line TB drugs included in the WHO Essential Medicines List. This will help local TB programmes and pharmaceutical companies to cover the needs of people with severe TB.

Also we are cooperating with WHO to identify severe forms of TB (TB meningitis, miliary/disseminated TB, caseous pneumonia, TB sepsis) into separate categories. These are currently identified as pulmonary or extrapulmonary TB, and people that have them are treated like those with low or moderate severity. Further research is required in order to count the prevalence of these deadly presentations of TB and to create guidelines with the best treatment regimens. We are currently looking for sponsors and partners in order to conduct these studies, and would be grateful for any statistics on severe forms of TB.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

We believe in our mission and hope that each patient, regardless of their condition, will be treated properly with the most effective drugs and be cured. We hope that our mission will find support, and we are always ready for cooperation.

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