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Americas, South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions on track to reach tuberculosis control targets


TB control cost-effective but still seriously under-funded in Africa, with slow progress in Eastern Mediterranean and Eastern Europe

22 MARCH 2006 | GENEVA -- Three of the world’s six regions are expected to achieve targets for tuberculosis (TB) control, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report published today.

The Region of the Americas and the South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions should reach targets set by the World Health Assembly, to detect 70% of TB cases and to successfully treat 85% of these cases by the end of 2005, according to the Global Tuberculosis Control 2006 report.

The WHO report confirms that 26* countries had already met the targets a year ahead of time, two of them being the high TB burden countries of the Philippines and Viet Nam. The report also indicates that five other high-burden countries – Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia and Myanmar – should have reached the targets within the 2005 time frame, though final confirmation will come at the end of 2006.

WHO Director-General Dr LEE Jong-wook said: “There is clear evidence that investment in TB control works. Even in low-income countries with enormous financial constraints, programmes are operating effectively and producing results. This same commitment needs to be replicated in African countries and other areas where funding and priority for TB control remains fragile.”

The latest estimates released in the report suggest that 1.7 million people died from TB in 2004. There were also 8.9 million new cases of TB in 2004, with the number of cases per capita rising at 1% per year globally as a consequence of the TB crisis in Africa - a crisis attributed in part to the complications of HIV coinfection and poor health systems. Eastern Europe, with its high prevalence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), also continues to have an adverse impact on global treatment success rates. Despite the cost-effectiveness of TB control, there is concern that African leaders are still failing to seriously invest in TB control. Response to the 2005 TB emergency in Africa declaration has been, for the most part, far too sluggish. Today’s report highlights the need for a much more rapid and vigorous response to the African TB emergency, including more ambitious plans that are backed up by more funding from African governments and donors.

Kenya is one country that is responding to the emergency declaration’s call for “urgent and extraordinary actions” to address TB and TB/HIV: “Kenya is determined to make a difference. We are taking a strong and decisive lead in TB control through our own national TB emergency plan. This is a strategic plan that lays out the actions and resources required to reduce the misery caused by unnecessary TB deaths,” said Kenya’s Minister of Health, Mrs Charity Kaluki Ngilu.

Other new initiatives with the shared aim of improving access to TB treatments for all are also being launched in Geneva prior to World TB Day on March 24.

Today sees the release of a set of International Standards for Tuberculosis Care, describing a level of care that all health practitioners should follow, together with a new Patients’ Charter for Tuberculosis Care outlining for the first time the rights and responsibilities of people with TB.

The two documents are important inclusions in a new six-point Stop TB Strategy,** developed by WHO and published in the Lancet medical journal last week. Both the International Standards and the Patients’ Charter are also highlighted in the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Plan to Stop TB, 2006–2015, which was launched in January 2006.

The increased momentum around TB control has been stimulated by commitments to the Global Plan, underpinned by the Stop TB Strategy. However, for the Plan to succeed in saving 14 million extra lives, a 10-year funding gap of US$ 31 billion must be bridged. This is equivalent to just US$ 2 a year from every person in the industrialized world.

Today’s publications provide not only a snapshot of the TB situation globally, but also the solutions for the robust continuation of TB control in all regions of the world.

* Algeria; Barbados; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Costa Rica; Cuba; Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Honduras; Jordan; Kiribati; Lebanon; Macau, China; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Micronesia; Mongolia; Morocco; Oman; Peru; Philippines; Saint Lucia; Seychelles; Solomon Islands; Tunisia; Uruguay; Viet Nam

** The six components of the new Stop TB Strategy are:

* Pursue high-quality DOTS expansion and enhancement
* Address TB/HIV, MDR-TB and other challenges
* Contribute to health system strengthening
* Engage all care providers
* Empower people with TB, and communities
* Enable and promote research


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