New Delhi: The fight against tuberculosis in WHO’s South East Asian Region, which includes India, will have a major impact on combating the disease globally, the world health body said, as its member nations pledged to ramp up efforts to eradicate the disease by 2030.
In a statement adopted at the Delhi End TB Summit here on Wednesday, member countries unanimously agreed for actualising and intensifying essential actions agreed upon in the Delhi Call to Action adopted in March last year, to accelerate efforts to end tuberculosis in the region.
“Progress against TB in this region (South East Asian region) will have a major impact on the progress globally. Too much is at stake, we cannot afford to fail. We must remember that the war against TB will be won in communities.
“It will be won by nurses, doctors, community health workers and others at the frontlines. We must give them the resources they need to find every last person with TB, to diagnose them, to treat them, and to cure them,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, DG WHO, who participated in the event said.
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The Delhi End TB Summit was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday where he announced the target to free India from the disease by 2025 – five years ahead of a global deadline. WHO said TB was responsible for 1.7 million deaths in 2016, despite most cases being curable and over 10 million people contract the disease every year.
TB is the leading infectious killer in India. There were an estimated 28 lakh new cases of the disease in 2016, with over 4 lakh people succumbing to the disease, including those with TB and HIV. WHO South-East Asia Region, which hosts about one-fourth of the global population, shares a disproportionate 46 per cent global TB burden.
Welcoming the statement, Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director for WHO South-East Asia, said, it gives shape to the momentum and aspirations and does so by setting out a series of strategic priorities.
“(The priorities) include establishing strong leadership of TB programmes at the national level, increasing budgetary and human resource allocations to TB programmes from domestic and global sources, enabling each and every TB patient to access the best possible care available and supplementing medical care for TB with social and financial protection,” Singh said.
Reviewing efforts being made to end tuberculosis since the adoption of the Delhi Call for Action on March 16, 2017, member countries noted that though efforts have been strengthened with increased attention, investments and initiatives, the stepped-up response was “falling short” of what was required to reach the critical thresholds for ending TB.
The member countries of the region stressed their firm intent to collectively reach out to two million missing TB cases and 1,50, 000 multidrug-resistance cases by 2020 and implement a response that is demonstrably adequate for ending the disease.
In the statement, the countries committed to multi-sectoral and empowered national initiatives, reporting to the highest levels of government, to lead the TB programme. “The member countries committed to increasing budgetary and human resource allocations by governments as well as by their global, domestic and other partners so as to ensure that national TB plans are fully funded,” WHO said in a statement.
The Delhi End TB Summit was hosted by the Indian Health Ministry, the World Health Organisation and the Stop TB Partnership.
The Stop TB Partnership’s Executive Director, Dr Lucica Ditiu, and the Global Fund’s Executive Director, Peter Sands, were among the prominent health leaders attending the week-long meeting. Health ministers of a number of countries including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Kazakhstan and Peru are also participating.
The summit sets the stage for the September 2018 United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB. For the first time, TB will be discussed in the UN General Assembly at the Heads of State level. The UN high-level meeting is expected to endorse an ambitious set of goals to put the world on course to ending tuberculosis.