Enhancing Tuberculosis Control in Kyrgyzstan: UNDP and the Government’s partnership

May 23, 2024
Photo: UNDP Kyrgyzstan

In an effort to bolster the Kyrgyz government's health governance capacity, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been at the forefront of strengthening the national response to tuberculosis (TB) through innovative technology and comprehensive support. With funding from the Global Fund, this project aims to enhance diagnostic accuracy, improve treatment outcomes, and ultimately reduce the prevalence of TB in Kyrgyzstan.

X-rays have long been foundational in diagnosing tuberculosis, but with the integration of artificial intelligence (AI), this process has become significantly more accurate and efficient. Under the UNDP project, a total of nine portable X-ray machines equipped with AI capabilities have been procured. Eight of these machines were distributed to regional TB control centers and the State TB Center in Bishkek, while one was allocated to the Penitentiary Service of the Ministry of Justice of the Kyrgyz Republic. These advanced devices are designed for the emergency diagnosis of tuberculosis, enabling immediate differentiation of TB from other diseases, and assessing the extent of lung lesions. 

Photo: UNDP Kyrgyzstan

As Tamara Bayalieva, Chief Physician of the Bishkek TB Hospital, explains: 

“We really needed this machine. The portable X-ray was convenient because we did not need to take the patients somewhere else; instead, we went to different places, including remote regions and districts, ourselves. We examined residents, detected suspicions of tuberculosis, and then referred them for further examination.”

She emphasized that although there is room for improvement, AI significantly enhances the precision of TB detection.

Photo: UNDP Kyrgyzstan

The UNDP also plays a crucial role in training and supporting healthcare workers in Kyrgyzstan to effectively utilize these AI-enhanced X-ray systems. Ongoing online collaboration between Kyrgyz and German specialists ensures that any implementation challenges are swiftly addressed. Through these collaborative efforts, communities are empowered to combat tuberculosis more effectively, contributing to the global effort to eliminate the disease.

Photo: UNDP Kyrgyzstan

These highly sought-after devices are to improve TB case finding in remote communities, thus enhancing the overall health of affected populations, including the most vulnerable. 

“At the UNDP, we are committed to supporting health services for all, including the most vulnerable groups of the population. No one should be left behind in this global effort to effectively cope with COVID-19 and tuberculosis,”
stated a UNDP representative.
Photo: UNDP Kyrgyzstan

Since 2011, the UNDP has been implementing Global Fund grants, actively supporting Kyrgyzstan’s HIV and TB control programs. These initiatives focus on quality prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care. The UNDP/Global Fund project collaborates closely with national and international partners to adapt its response to the HIV and TB epidemics, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring continued patient treatment, timely diagnosis, and prevention for key population groups despite challenging circumstances.

Acting as the Principal Recipient of Global Fund grants since 2011, the UNDP has successfully implemented five grants, with the current project aimed at accelerating reductions in HIV infections and deaths, significantly increasing the treatment success rate among drug-resistant forms of TB and strengthening Kyrgyzstan's healthcare system. The project, with a budget of $146 million, spans from 2011 to 2023 and demonstrates the UNDP's unwavering commitment to enhancing public health infrastructure and outcomes in Kyrgyzstan.