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Opinion
Lisa Jarvis

Ukrainians Need Help to Maintain Progress Against TB

Neighboring countries must make sure refugees get the tuberculosis medicines and support they need — or risk a broader public health crisis.

Screening Ukrainian lungs in Germany.

Screening Ukrainian lungs in Germany.

Photographer: Matthias Balk/picture alliance via Getty Images

The humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine threatens to upend years of work to improve public health in the region — and especially to worsen the spread of tuberculosis.

Ukraine has one of the highest rates of drug-resistant TB in the world. Of the nearly 24,000 people diagnosed in the country just last year, about a third have the most intractable kind — resistant to one or more treatment options. Ukrainian health authorities have been working for years to improve treatment and support for TB patients, and Russia’s invasion will almost certainly reverse their progress. To avoid a broader TB disaster in the region, the world needs to mobilize resources to help Ukrainians and refugees with the disease.