WHO calls for regional efforts to end TB

Gloria Essien

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Although the African Region has made good progress in controlling Tuberculosis, they still have the world’s highest levels of the disease with only half of existing TB cases being funded by the health systems.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, stated in his message on World Tuberculosis Day.

He said that African leaders have tremendous influence to build strong partnerships and commitment to end the TB epidemic at every level.

Dr. Moeti therefore called on governments, parliamentarians and policy-makers to drive ambitious plans that will accelerate TB control at national level.

He urge Governments to scale up domestic funding for TB control and take responsibility for essential medicines and laboratory supplies.

The Regional Director also urged governments to push for universal coverage with proven high quality services.

“Since TB is found in communities where human rights and dignity are often overlooked, Governments should lead actions beyond the health sector to address environmental, economic and other factors which increase the risk of TB. This year’s theme is “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world”. It seeks to build momentum towards the first UN General Assembly high-level meeting on TB in September this year, when Heads of State and governments and key players will resolve to end TB through urgent, global actions to achieve a TB-free world”. Moetti said.

He said that Africa has the most patients infected with both HIV and TB, and are seeing alarming increases in the forms of TB that resist treatment with common medicines.

The message said that African governments are contributing only a quarter of the resources needed to provide adequate TB services, and 40% of needs remain unfunded.

“A TB-free world will only be achieved through leaders who champion efforts to end TB at local level. At the “First Ministerial Conference on Ending TB” in Moscow in November 2017, 75 ministers from the African Region committed to end TB. Member States of the African Union finalized a Common African Position on TB (CAP-TB) on the sidelines of that historic conference”. She noted.

She also called on health workers, nongovernmental organizations and technicians to maximize the use of proven methods to diagnose and successfully treat all types of TB, and for researchers to do the scientific studies needed to inform policies to help improve and monitor TB services.

Another call was made to community leaders, patient advocacy groups and people affected by TB to partner with Government to ensure access to treatment for all.

The implementation of these actions requires strong leadership. We want leaders for a TB-free world.

She added that the WHO in the African Region and the African Union Commission are setting up ways to monitor progress towards ending the TB epidemic by 2030 as called for in the Sustainable Development Goals and End TB Strategy.