A big year ahead for TB

The year 2018 is critical for the international community as it pushes progress towards ending the global tuberculosis (TB) epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In September 2018, United Nations Member States will come together in New York for the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis to show their political leadership and commitment to ending TB by 2030. Some of the main challenges in the response, including the need for equity and to ensure vulnerable groups have access to TB services, will be addressed at the high-level meeting, as will the need to make TB testing and treatment available through primary health-care services and the urgent need to mobilize resources.

In preparation for this historic event—the first ever United Nations high-level meeting on TB—leaders from across the globe converged in New Delhi, India, on 14 and 15 March, for the End TB Summit, part of which was the 30th Stop TB Partnership Board Meeting.

A large number of global leaders on TB gathered at the meeting. J. P. Nadda, the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, India, said during the event, “We will ensure that commitments to end tuberculosis made are fulfilled. Achievement of the goals will need innovations as well as new implementation ideas. India stands committed to support neighbouring countries in the fight against the disease.”

In 2016, the estimated funding gap for TB programming was US$ 2.3 billion. In addition, there was a US$ 1.2 billion shortfall in TB research and science. The urgent need for increased investments in innovation will be highlighted in the lead-up to the high-level meeting as part of efforts to bring 21st century diagnostics and treatments and a vaccine to the response to TB.

“Leaders across the globe need to seize this opportunity, make bold commitments and take a resolve to see the end of tuberculosis on a fast track. Actions to follow the commitments will need bold actions by health ministries, other ministries, the private sector, civil society and communities,” said Isaac Folorunso Adewole, the Minister of Health of Nigeria.

TB has been around for thousands of years, yet TB still remains a major global health crisis. The World Health Organization estimated that in 2016 around 1.3 million people died of TB and that a further 400 000 people living with HIV died from TB/HIV coinfection (reported globally as AIDS-related deaths).

“We cannot eliminate tuberculosis with only a top-down approach. We must work together to empower communities to support the fight against tuberculosis. This movement must go far beyond the medical community,” said Soumya Swaminathan, the Deputy Director-General of the World Health Organization.

People living with HIV are particularly affected by TB. One in 10 TB cases occurs among people living with HIV and one in four TB deaths is associated with HIV. Despite being preventable and curable, in 2016 TB was the ninth leading cause of death worldwide.

“There are a lot of people still not accessing treatment. We need to look at strategies to increase access to care, particularly for those most marginalized and not accessing care right now,” said Tim Martineau, the Deputy Executive Director, a.i, at UNAIDS.

UNAIDS and the Stop TB Partnership have a long-standing collaboration working together to advocate for, monitor and support programmes for people and countries affected by the joint global TB and HIV epidemics. The Stop TB Partnership Board provides leadership and direction, monitors the implementation of agreed policies, plans and activities of the partnership and ensures smooth coordination among Stop TB Partnership components.

Source: UNAIDS