The first workshop of the conference was engaging harm reduction programs in provision of TB screening and treatment for people who use drugs. The goal of the workshop was to discuss which services should be prioritized in delivering TB and harm reduction services for people who use drugs and to identify successful strategies and interventions in this area.
The workshop participants discussed the advantages and drawbacks of using chest x-rays and symptom screening as part of harm reduction programs’ active case finding strategy. Participants from Kaliningrad referred to their experience of using digital x-rays, but pointed out that this screening method is not always reliable in identifying TB in people with HIV and drug users with a strong immune system. The NGO from Tomsk shared their practice of doing sputum collection along with needle and naloxone distribution during outreach visits as a way to bring testing closer to the patient. Virtus from Dnepropetrovsk engaged in similar work outside of OST clinics, where people come daily to receive methadone treatment. On the subject of treatment many participants pointed out the fact that drug treatment is not available in a lot of TB clinics which makes it difficult to treat patients with drug dependency.
Successful practices included mobile delivery of TB medications in the community by NGO outreach workers (Poltava, Ukraine), as well as medical staff (Kaliningrad, Tomsk) There was a general consensus that there is a need to document best practices in detail, particularly on policies and procedures regulating the work of outreach workers engaged in TB treatment delivery in the community as well as ensuring infection control during sputum collection. This kind of knowledge would help to replicate good practices across the region.