Unified action: The only way forward to control TB: By Bobby Ramakant

Image

"We simply must stop TB. This succinct but compelling message implies a shared responsibility for unified action at all levels, by health-care providers, national and international partners and communities to control and eliminate TB", said Dr. Samlee Plianbangchang, World Health Organization (WHO)'s Regional Director for South-East Asia.
The strong call for unified action at all levels to control TB, is significant, and echoes the responses to concerns raised by many other people on what should be done to improve TB responses in these times of global economic meltdown. At the first day of the 3rd Stop TB Partners' Forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a day before the World TB Day (24 March 2009) and a week before the high-level ministerial meeting on X/MDR-TB opens in Beijing, China (1-3 April 2009), the call for unified action at all levels from WHO regional office in South-East Asia, adds to underlining the urgency needed for TB control.
Progress in reducing the number of tuberculosis (TB) cases stands at a crossroads today. While over 87% of the two million TB patients in the South-East Asia Region are being treated successfully every year, multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB), TB-HIV co-infection and the global economic crisis pose a serious threat to the gains achieved so far.
For instance, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM) falls short by USD 5 billion of its 2009-2010 budget of USD 8 billion. Countries instead of keeping their promises to the GFATM, are instead disbursing many times more of bail-out money to banks (which banks are disbursing to their employees as holiday bonuses). It is clear that TB care and control is not yet a development priority for most countries - and the need to engage these stakeholders as equal partners was never so compelling.
Annually over 10% of the estimated 3.6 million people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the south-east Asia Region are likely to develop active TB. Hence, it is critical that both HIV/AIDS and TB control programmes ensure that the benefits of expanding access to HIV counselling, testing and care, including access to antiretroviral therapy (ART), reach TB patients who also have HIV.
Levels of drug-resistance in TB patients in most parts of the South-East Asian Region are still low at less than 3%, due to good implementation of basic directly-observed treatment short-course (DOTS). However, given the large number of TB patients, this represents over 150,000 new patients with MDR-TB every year. "Widespread unregulated use of anti-TB drugs outside of national programmes is our major concern in the context of drug resistant TB," stressed Dr Plianbangchang.
Increasing investments in health-care systems are essential to ensuring that all TB patients have equitable access to free and quality care at all health care facilities at the primary level. What is also urgently required is that all health professionals, from both the public and private sectors, adhere strictly to internationally recommended standards for TB care, and that appropriate measures are duly implemented to contain unregulated use of anti-TB drugs to prevent the emergence of drug resistance.

(The author is a World Health Organization (WHO) Director General’s WNTD Awardee (2008), a part of Stop-TB eForum Resource Team, HDN, and writes extensively on health and development. Email: bobbyramakant@yahoo.com)

You May Also Like

Image

Islamic Jihad Not Hamas the Most Prominent Threat to Israel from Gaza. By Manish Rai

The ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) has taken effect in the Gaza Strip after days of cross-border fighting trigger

Image

If US-religions don’t up-date & proselytize developing world (as per religious freedom), world doesn’t have any future at-least through USA. By Hem Raj Jain

As the age-old wisdom goes, the most difficult thing in the world is to take money from someone because generally people give money after deliberat

Image

USA can count on Tibetans (through India) to put China at its 'proper place'. By Hem Raj Jain

Lip service to democracy by the USA / Pelosi would fool no one (ii)- Strategic retreat over Taiwan legitimate only if USA launches new global organ

"Trial of Pakistani Christian Nation" By Nazir S Bhatti

On demand of our readers, I have decided to release E-Book version of "Trial of Pakistani Christian Nation" on website of PCP which can also be viewed on website of Pakistan Christian Congress www.pakistanchristiancongress.org . You can read chapter wise by clicking tab on left handside of PDF format of E-Book.

nazirbhattipcc@aol.com , pakistanchristianpost@yahoo.com