WHO aims to eliminate TB in poor nations

Friday, July 04, 2014
Dr. Mario Raviglione, Director, Global TB programme, WHO.
[PHOTO: UNifeed]
Geneva: The World Health Organization (WHO) together with the European Respiratory Society (ERS) has presented a new framework to eliminate tuberculosis (TB) in countries with low levels of the disease. Today there are 33 countries and territories where there are fewer than 100 TB cases per million population.

Dr. Mario Raviglione, Director of WHO's Global TB programme, said that "we are at an historical point now in control of tuberculosis worldwide" and pointed out that these 33 countries are at the low level of incidence that allows them to "truly target elimination."

The framework outlines an initial "pre-elimination" phase, aiming to have fewer than ten new TB cases per million people per year by 2035 in these countries. The goal is to then achieve full elimination of TB by 2050, defined as less than 1 case per million people per year. 

Although TB is preventable and curable, in these 33 settings 155,000 people still fall ill each year and 10,000 die. Millions are infected and at risk of falling ill.

Raviglione said "nothing can be achieved in tuberculosis overnight" but if "bold decisions" are taken by governments the 2035 targets can be achieved.

The proposed framework builds on approaches that are already proving successful. It was developed with experts from low-burden countries and adapted from the new WHO global TB strategy, 2016-35, approved by the World Health Assembly in May 2014. Country representatives gathered to discuss the framework and its implementation at a meeting co-hosted by WHO and the European Respiratory Society (ERS) in Rome in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Health.

Raviglione noted that WHO has identified eight priority areas for these 33 countries to bring them closer to elimination.

These are the following: ensuring funding and stewardship for planning and services of high quality; addressing most vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups; addressing special needs of migrants; cross-border issues; undertaking screening for active TB and latent TB infection in high-risk groups and provide appropriate treatment; managing outbreaks; optimizing MDR-TB prevention and care; ensuring continued surveillance and programme monitoring and evaluation; invest in research and new tools; and support global TB control.

The 33 countries are: Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Puerto Rico, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, West Bank and Gaza Strip.
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