Opening remarks of the Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific for 50th Anniversary Ceremony of International TB Training
Your Honourable Imperial Highness, Princess Akishino,
Patroness of the Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association,
Mr. Ryuji Yamane, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Mr. Yasuhiro Tsuji, Senior Vice-Minister for Health, Labour, and Welfare
Mr. Hideaki Domichi, Japan International Cooperation Agency,
Dr. Isao Osada, Chairman, Board of Directors, Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association,
Dr. Tadao Shimao, Advisor, Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association,
Dr. Keiji Tanaka, Board Representative/Secretary General, Stop TB Partnership, Japan
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honour to be here at the 50th anniversary of the International Training Courses in Tuberculosis Control.
I would like to thank the Research Institute of Tuberculosis and the Japan International Cooperation Agency for organizing this event.
As we all know, tuberculosis makes up a long and painful chapter in the history of public health in the Western Pacific Region. But it is one that we trust will end happily.
In 1992 WHO declared a global emergency on tuberculosis.
Since that time, we have made steady strides towards controlling the disease — including the start of the Stop TB Project in 1999.
By 2005, we were the only Region to achieve the interim global target of 70% case detection and 85% treatment success.
Naturally, we are very proud of that achievement, but we know we have a long way to go in controlling this disease.
That will mean fulfilling the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half TB prevalence and death rates by 2015, compared with 1990 levels.
Today, the Western Pacific Region accounts for 20% of the global TB burden, with drug-resistant TB an increasing concern.
What’s more, recent surveys tell us that significant numbers of TB cases remain undetected, allowing the disease to spread in communities around the Region.
This trend must be stopped. We must strengthen our ability to detect and treat all cases.
But even with improved diagnostic tests and revolutionary TB drugs coming soon, our success depends on having the right people in the front line.
The new tools, methods and drugs need to be managed by the right people — well-trained, competent and dedicated people who can put modern technologies and evidence-based strategies into effect.
In this regard, the development of human resources is crucial. That is why this approach is at the centre of WHO's health system strengthening initiatives.
Over the years, we have looked to Japan for guidance and encouragement.
Japan's Research Institute of Tuberculosis (or RIT) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (or JICA) were among the first to recognize this need and to focus on TB training. They started training health-care workers back in 1963.
Since those early days, WHO has happily contributed experts to lecture on TB control and other health-care priorities, in partnership with our Japanese colleagues.
In all, more than 2000 health-care workers have received training from RIT and JICA over the past 50 years.
Participants have come from all over of the world — from Africa to the Americas.
Many have since become leading figures in the battle against TB and have passed on their expertise to countless others.
On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of International TB Training Courses, we would like to congratulate RIT and the Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association, JICA, and the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare of the Japanese Government on their many achievements.
Personally, I would like to express my deep gratitude on behalf of WHO for your selfless and visionary commitment to training health-care professionals.
I am proud and honoured that WHO has been able to make a contribution to this noble aim.
Let me assure you that I am committed to continuing our support for International Training.
I believe that, together, we can make a difference.