The U.S. Embassy in Bucharest awarded prizes on Monday to seven Romanian journalists who have reported about tuberculosis. The competition, promoted by the Association for Support to Multi-drug Resistant Tuberculosis Patients, recognized Diana Brancusi (of the public television TVR), Madalina Samoila (private television Antena 1), Marilena Francu (public broadcaster Radio Romania Actualitati), Dan Brumaru (Click newspaper), Gabriela Dumba (Puterea newspaper), Ana Maria Predila (Gazeta de Sud newspaper) and Tatiana Dabija.
U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm acknowledged at the event hosted by the Embassy that health care is a major challenge in Romania, with nearly one quarter of the TB cases in the European Union and one third of the multi-drug resistant TB cases, within only four percent of the region’s population. He called Romania’s government and health ministry to provide funds for TB management programmes.
“Romania has approximately one fourth of all tuberculosis cases in the European Union and the European economic area and one third of all drug-resistant cases despite having only 4% of the population of these areas. As a consequence, Romania faces the challenge of securing funds for the complete implementation of its national strategy. The Government of Romania and the Ministry of Health should prioritize securing the gaps in funding the tuberculosis program to help eradicate this disease in Romania,” said Ambassador Klemm.
He underlined that one of his priorities, one of his objectives as Ambassador of the United States to Romania is to improve and enhance the prosperity of our two countries, of American citizens, but also of Romanian citizens. “Our goal in this priority is to build a stronger, healthier, democratic Romania, to be a stronger partner, a stronger ally of the United States”.
“Health is a major challenge for Romania, as the events of the past few weeks have unfortunately and tragically demonstrated again and I would like to encourage both the Romanian Government, but also Romanian society to put appropriate emphasis on improving its health infrastructure and eventually health outcomes. And TB is one disease that is subject to relatively rapid improvement once adequate resources are focused on it. It is a disease associated with the poor and by eliminating the disease it could also help the economic and social outcomes for the poor. And by not doing so, Romania is holding as a whole back its social and economic development,” said the U.S diplomat.
National Drug and Medical Devices Agency president Nicolae Fotin voiced his hope of having drugs available more easily from January 2017.
Anthropologist Jonathan Stillo, a TB expert, who chaired the jury, intervened via Skype from the United States to relate his experience with Romanian TB patients; he began to study such case five years ago. He dismissed the popular belief that tuberculosis is a disease of poor people, and mentioned physicians, lawyers and an Olympic competitor among the cases he encountered. He was surprised, when trying to follow up his studies, that some patients had died or developed a more aggressive type of TB.
“Many patients, however, conceal their disease, as it is associated to a social stigma; this made the journalist competition relevant,” Stillo said, according to Agerpres.