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Improving TB treatment and control in West and Central Africa

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Cotonou, 27 March 2018 - The search for innovative and effective ways of tackling tuberculosis (TB) in the African Region is gaining momentum. TB experts from West and Central African countries are meeting in Cotonou, Benin to share best practices and lessons learnt in Tuberculosis case finding and treatment.

The meeting brings together National Tuberculosis Programme Managers, TB experts, partners and representatives of civil societies to agree on ways to prevent, and control tuberculosis in the sub-regions. The meeting is part of a collaborative initiative between several institutions among whom are The Global Fund to fight Aids, TB and Malaria, WHO, Stop TB partnership, The Union, Damian Foundation, USAID, and the West African Regional Network for Tuberculosis control (WARN-TB).

“Tuberculosis continues to be a disease of major public health concern in the Region. Addressing this problem calls for joint efforts of everyone. I am confident that this collaboration will strengthen our synergies towards a sub-region that will be free of tuberculosis” says Dr. Jean Pierre Baptiste, WHO Representative of Benin.

WHO supported the creation of the West African Regional Network for Tuberculosis control (WARN-TB) that involves all major partners in the fight against tuberculosis and research in the sub-region. The Benin National Tuberculosis Programme hosts the secretariat.

Participants are deliberating on innovative strategies to find missing cases of tuberculosis and to enhance treatment outcomes. They will also plan implementation of best practices based on the country/content and available resources and identify technical assistance and resources needed to scale-up.

'Our countries have very little opportunity to share their happy or unhappy experiences and learn from each other. In addition, exchanges between partners and civil society actors are rare in the field of tuberculosis in our subregion. That is why I would like to welcome this initiative,” said Dr. Lucien Toko, Director of Cabinet, Ministry of Health, Benin.

The representative of civil societies, Mrs. Olive Mumba stressed the need to address stigma related to tuberculosis.

“Stigma is playing a very active role. It is actually a barrier to aid patient in our communities. The biggest thing we have to fight now is stigma. We should not let anyone to be left behind because of what they are” she stated.

The meeting will be followed by an Inaugural meeting that will be held at the same venue from 29th to 30th March 2018. In this meeting, the National TB Programme managers from Central and Western African regions are invited to share their experience. The goal is to discuss the operationalization of the Central African Regional Network for TB control (CARN-TB).

For media enquiries please contact: Jean de Dieu Iragena Technical Officer Laboratory TB/HIV and Hepatitis – WHO Regional Office for Africa +47 241 39125 Email: iragenaj@who.int