Kitty van Weezenbeek: a joint “CUT and PASTE” approach to fight TB/HIV

KNCV brings together TB and HIV experts!

THE HAGUE, 26 September 2018
In a historic first, the United Nations General Assembly meeting on Wednesday 26 September was devoted to tuberculosis. Prior to this, KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation organized a side event attended by TB and HIV experts, politicians and donors at the UN headquarters in New York. Here Kitty van Weezenbeek, executive director of KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation called for a joint “CUT and PASTE” approach to fight TB/HIV.

The fact that tuberculosis has now risen to the top of the political agenda clearly demonstrates how concerned world leaders are about the humanitarian and economic consequences of the world’s deadliest infectious disease. Every year, tuberculosis kills 1.6 million people. Multi-resistant TB is a huge problem and TB can be devastating for people living with HIV. This is unnecessary, as TB is treatable.

Improved cooperation between HIV and TB prevention programmes is one of the areas where there is a lot to be gained. KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, the international expertise center aimed at combating TB, has been working hard to achieve this for more than 15 years.

Side event – Leave no one behind
In New York, KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation organized a side event on TB/HIV, ‘Leave No One Behind: Scaling up integrated people-centered TB/HIV care towards universal health coverage’.

“Our projects have shown that effective cooperation enables us to identify more people with TB and HIV, treat them more effectively and also help take the pressure off healthcare systems. We need to make this the norm across the world. In order to achieve this, we are uniting all the main players. It’s time for donors, the world of politics and experts to embrace this TB/HIV cooperation and take concrete steps …”, said Kitty van Weezenbeek in the lead-up to the event.

During the panel discussion, Van Weezenbeek  issued a challenge to all stakeholders in TB- and HIV-programs to “CUT and PASTE.”

“KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation has shown that integrated people-centered TB/HIV care benefits patients, their families, healthcare workers and health systems. An effective TB/HIV framework ensures joint Planning; joint Advocacy; integrated Service delivery and Training; and joint Evidence generation, while involving public, private and community stakeholders in these efforts. CUT the silos and competition for funds and PASTE these framework components into a coordinated (inter)national response to the dual TB/HIV epidemic. KNCV knows it works!”

In addition to Van Weezenbeek, Paul Blokhuis, the Dutch State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport spoke at the breakfast session. The Dutch and Japanese governments co-hosted the event. Other speakers included Peter Sands (Global Fund), Irene Koek (USAID), Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus (WHO), Michel Sidibe (UNAIDS) and Dr Eric Goosby (UN special envoy for tuberculosis). They were also be joined by people from communities affected by TB and leaders of TB prevention programmes in Nigeria and South Africa.

Immediately following the side event, world leaders came together at the UN General Assembly meeting on TB. Their support and political commitment is crucial in order to increase efforts to combat TB on all fronts.

 

KNCV has been fighting TB since its establishment in 1903. Over the past 117 years, the organization has acquired indispensable knowledge and experience in the field of effective TB control, resulting in pre-elimination in the Netherlands and significant contributions to global evidence generation, policy development and TB program implementation worldwide.

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Tuberculosis is still one of the major causes of preventable death in the world and claims over 4000 lives a day, leading to over 1,5 million deaths a year.

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