April 20, 2024

WHO urges increased investment in TB control

World Tuberculosis Day is on March 24, 2024

With World Tuberculosis (TB) Day approaching on March 24, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a compelling investment case for TB screening and preventive treatment.

A modelling study developed in collaboration with governments from Brazil, Georgia, Kenya, and South Africa underscores the transformative impact of expanding TB screening and preventive measures.

The analysis underscores that even modest investments could yield significant health and economic dividends in these nations, with a return on investment potentially reaching up to US$39 for every dollar allocated.

This release aims to bolster countries’ efforts in advocating for and allocating resources to scale up TB screening and preventive treatment, in line with commitments made by Heads of State during the 2023 UN High-Level Meeting on TB.

1.3 million deaths

Despite substantial progress in combating TB globally, which has saved an estimated 75 million lives since 2000, the disease still claims 1.3 million lives annually, severely impacting families and communities worldwide.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, stressed the importance of investing in evidence-based TB screening and prevention interventions, which align with WHO recommendations and can significantly contribute to advancing universal health coverage.

He highlighted the collective knowledge, tools, and political will available to tackle this persistent public health challenge.

The investment report underscores the potential for implementing TB screening alongside preventive treatment to reduce TB incidence and mortality.

It emphasises that such strategic investments are indispensable for addressing the needs of vulnerable populations and achieving the ambitious End TB targets set by WHO.

While WHO reported a notable global recovery in the scale-up of TB diagnosis and treatment services in 2022, with the highest figures recorded since monitoring began in 1995, progress in expanding access to TB preventive treatment has been sluggish.

This is concerning given that preventing TB infection and halting the progression from infection to disease is pivotal for achieving the goals outlined in WHO’s End TB Strategy.

Critical groups

Efforts must focus on offering TB preventive treatment to critical groups such as individuals with HIV, household contacts of TB patients, and other high-risk populations.

The report highlights progress, indicating that in 2022, around 3.8 million people living with HIV and household contacts of TB patients received TB preventive treatment, representing approximately 60% of the targeted population for that year, in line with commitments made at the 2018 UN High-Level Meeting.

However, the challenge of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) persists as a significant public health crisis. While an estimated 410,000 people developed multidrug-resistant or rifampicin-resistant TB (MDR/RR-TB) in 2022, only about 40% accessed treatment.

Progress in developing new TB diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines remains constrained by inadequate investment in these areas.

As the world commemorates World Tuberculosis Day 2024 under the theme ‘Yes! We can end TB!’, a message of hope resonates: With heightened leadership, increased investments, and faster uptake of new WHO recommendations, it is possible to reverse the tide of the TB epidemic.

This year’s focus

Following the commitments made by Heads of State at the UN High-Level Meeting in 2023 to accelerate progress towards ending TB, this year’s focus is on translating these commitments into tangible actions.

This includes implementing the WHO Director-General’s flagship initiative on TB for 2023-2027.

Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global Tuberculosis Programme, emphasised the critical nature of the next five years in ensuring that the current political momentum translates into concrete actions to achieve global TB targets.

WHO will continue to provide international leadership in the TB response, working collaboratively with stakeholders to save every person, family, and community affected by this devastating disease.

The global targets endorsed at the 2023 UN High-Level Meeting on TB include reaching 90% of people in need with TB prevention and care services, prioritising WHO-recommended rapid tests for TB diagnosis, ensuring comprehensive health and social support for all TB patients, securing at least one new safe and effective TB vaccine, and bridging funding gaps for TB implementation and research by 2027.

Featured image: Progress in developing new TB diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines remains constrained. Credit: CDC

    Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247 delivers the latest business and lifestyle news and essential infotainment for, and from the Middle East region, with key focus on the GCC nations: United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman.
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