WHO calls for global support to end TB

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for global support in a new 20 year strategy which has been developed to end the epidemic once and for all.

This year has been identified as a critical one for action to adapt and roll out the strategy in diverse country settings. The strategy addresses TB among vulnerable groups, including people living with HIV who develop TB.

The WHO has said in 2013 there were an estimated 1.1 million people co-infected with HIV and TB – 360 000 died.

“Persistent funding gaps in the TB response also need to be filled to drive progress towards ending the global epidemic. It is vital that resource gaps of USD 2 billion per year for TB interventions and USD 1.39 billion per year for TB research be filled,” The WHO posted on its website.

WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan said the fight against TB was a matter of social justice. “Each and every man, woman or child with TB should have equal, unhindered access to the innovative tools and services they need for rapid diagnosis, treatment and care,” said Chan.

A target of a 95% reduction in TB deaths and a 90% reduction in cases of TB by 2035 has been set out to be achieved.

“An important milestone to be reached within the next five years is the elimination of catastrophic costs for TB patients and their families. Eliminating catastrophic costs is feasible through making care more accessible and through financial protection schemes to minimize medical and non-medical costs as well as income loss. “

Accelerating research and innovation in basic science, new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines and their rapid uptake, will be critical to break the trajectory of the epidemic and reach the global targets.

“Recent years have seen tremendous progress in the fight against TB, with over 37 million lives saved, but much more needs to be done. In 2013, 9 million people fell ill with TB, almost half a million of whom have a multi-drug resistant disease which is far harder to treat. An estimated 1.5 million people still die of tuberculosis each year.

“The disease frequently has devastating economic consequences for affected families, reducing their annual income by an average of 50%, and aggravating existing inequalities.”

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