A new report released today by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the WHO Regional Office for Europe indicates that while the numbers of new tuberculosis (TB) patients is decreasing, the decline is insufficient to achieve the target to end the epidemic by 2030.
Run not walk to end TB
“It is not enough to ‘walk’ towards ending TB, as this way we would arrive too late for too many people,” says Dr. Zuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director of Europe. “We need to ‘leap forward’ and invest now for individual benefits and societal returns. The Tuberculosis action plan for the WHO European Region 2016 – 2020 shows that bold actions will save over 3 million lives and US$ 48 billion in 5 years in the Region. We need to revamp political commitment at all levels to achieve tangible and immediate results that change and save the lives of all those people suffering from TB today and ensure a TB-free world for our children.”
Kitty van Weezenbeek, the executive director of KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, also champions for greater commitment and investment. Van Weezenbeek: “It is unacceptable that nearly 5,000 people worldwide die of tuberculosis every day, while a sick people can be cured. TB has to leave the world and we need political commitment in addition to technical innovations.”
The way forward
Beyond World TB Day this week, the call for global leaders to accelerate efforts to end TB is intensifying, and with good reason. This year the United Nations General Assembly will hold the first-ever meeting dedicated to tuberculosis in September further pressuring governments for their commitment to eliminate this disease.
The commitments needed to push the region towards significant change include but are not limited to the expansion of existing modern diagnostic technologies, increased funding for the development of new tools, and improving availability of new drugs and shorter regimens. The success of these commitments will also depend upon the collaborative efforts of all healthcare stakeholders.
Only through collaboration and improved technologies can we make the leaps and bounds necessary to treat every person affected with TB, with the best quality-assured drugs and regimens available.