World TB Day: WHO harps on reaching vulnerable people

As nations commomerates the World Tubercluisos Day today, the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for concerted action by all sectors in developing innovative approaches to reach vulnerable populations and ensure that they have access to quality TB care and management.

In her message to mark the event in Abuja, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti said across the Africa region, the challenges in TB prevention and control are still enormous even though it is on the threshold of reaching a 35% TB death reduction.

“First, the delayed diagnosis and testing. There is still a notable gap between the estimated number of new infections and case notifications of TB: 40% of people living with TB did not know of their diagnosis or it was not reported in 2021. One million people are living with TB in the region and have not been detected.

“Second, the link between TB and HIV. Approximately 20% of people newly diagnosed with TB are also living with HIV infection.

“Third, the multi-drug resistant TB. In the African region, only 26% of all people living with multi-drug resistance are receiving the appropriate treatment.

She therefore noted the need to find and diagnose cases of TB so that the patients can be treated, and their contacts offered preventive medication.

” Nigeria is an example of a country that managed to significantly increase national TB case finding by 50% in 2021 using innovative approaches such as the expansion of the daily observed treatment protocols, use of digital technologies, Community Active Case Finding, and enlisting Public Private Mix initiatives.

“We must work together to develop innovative approaches to reach vulnerable populations and ensure that they have access to quality TB care and management.

Specially today, I urge leaders, governments, partners, communities, and all stakeholders to urgently foster the resilient health systems required to accelerate the TB response so that we can reach the Sustainable Development Goals targets by 2030.

Dr. Moeti however assured that the second UN High-level Meeting on TB in September 2023 will provide a rare opportunity to give global visibility to the disease and mobilize high-level political commitment to end TB.

This year’s theme is “Yes, we can end TB,” highlights the need to ensure equitable access to prevention and care, in line with our drive towards Universal Health Coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.


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