Needed: new weapons to fight TB, says WHO

News release

MANILA, 23 March 2010—The World Health Organization (WHO) today urged countries to seek new and innovative ways to halt the spread of tuberculosis (TB). Despite the decline since 2004 in the proportion of the world's population falling sick with TB or dying of the disease, evidence points to the urgent need to do more, do it better and do it faster, WHO said.

To date, one out of three people sick with TB still fails to access timely and accurate diagnosis and to receive effective treatment. This is despite the success of the Stop TB Strategy launched in 2006, which has treated more than 22 million patients under DOTS, the WHO recommended method of treating the disease. Under DOTS, which stands for directly observed treatment short-course, health care workers observe patients as they take their medications to ensure that they take them without fail. Failure to do so could lead to the spread of drug-resistant TB.

To highlight the need for new and innovative ways to battle the disease, the theme of this year's World Stop TB Day, marked every 24 March, is "Innovation to accelerate action".

This year's campaign seeks to recognize individuals around the world who have found new ways to halt TB in the field of:

  • Research aimed at developing new diagnostics, drugs or vaccines
  • Operational research aimed at making TB care more effective and more efficient
  • New approaches to helping people gain access to TB diagnosis and treatment
  • Novel partnerships between forces in the fight against TB
  • Advances in integrating TB care into health systems
  • New approaches to providing support from members of the community to people already affected by TB
  • Innovative ways of raising awareness about TB.

This year marks the halfway point for the Global Plan to Stop TB (2006-2016), which is a comprehensive assessment of the action and resources needed to implement the Stop TB strategy.

There is a shortfall this year of US$ 2.4 billion for full implementation of the Global Plan, which includes research and development needs. WHO said new and innovative ways to leverage resources are needed if targets to stop TB are to be met.

One of the Millennium Development Goals, which are designed to improve human well-being through better health, seeks to halve TB prevalence and death rates relative to 1990 levels. By 2050, the target is to eliminate TB as a public health problem, measured as one case per million population.

For more information, please contact Dr Katsunori Osuga at +63 2 528 9709; e-mail: osugak@wpro.who.int osugak@wpro.who.int or
Dr Daniel Sagebield at: +63 2 528 9720; e-mail: sagebield@wpro.who.int sagebield@wpro.who.int

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