GENEVA – The Stop TB Partnership and the Global Fund today signed a new collaboration agreement to contribute towards the goal of finding and treating an additional 1.5 million people with tuberculosis who are currently missed by health systems.
Under the TB Strategic Initiative, the Stop TB Partnership will work with national TB programs and partners in 13 countries, providing technical support through a combination of innovative approaches and best practices to remove barriers to accessing TB services, with a particular focus on key populations and vulnerable groups.
In 2016, 10.4 million people got sick with TB, an entirely preventable and curable disease. Only 6.3 million were detected and officially notified, leaving a gap of 4.1 million people who were “missed” by health systems after failing to be diagnosed, treated or reported. The result is many will die or continue to be sick and transmit the disease or, if treated with improper drugs, contribute to the growing menace of drug resistance.
The agreement is part of the TB Catalytic Investment initiative, an ambitious effort that brings together WHO, the Stop TB Partnership, the Global Fund and other implementing partners to stop the spread of TB and reach the global goal of ending TB as an epidemic by 2030.
Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership, said the agreement will provide much-needed impetus to help countries begin closing gaps by finding cases of both drug-susceptible TB and drug-resistant TB.
“We have set an ambitious target of finding and treating an additional 1.5 million missing cases of TB by 2019. This agreement allows us to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the Global Fund, implementers and health partners in ensuring we reach our objective,” Dr. Ditiu said.
“Missing TB cases including drug-resistant TB are major challenges in fighting the disease, and pose a serious threat to global health security,” said Marijke Wijnroks, Interim Executive Director of the Global Fund.
“Only through partnership and smart investments will we achieve the global goal of ending TB as an epidemic,” said Dr. Wijnroks.
The TB Catalytic Investment initiative includes US$115 million in matching funds designed to support country-led programs; a US$65 million multi-country TB investment for programs focused on migrant and cross-border issues, the mining sector, refugees, improved laboratory services, and transition to domestically funded health programs; and the US$10 million TB Strategic Initiative. The 13 countries that are part of the TB Catalytic Investment initiative are Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, Ukraine, Kenya, Mozambique and India.
Some key interventions of the TB Strategic Initiative include carrying out gender and legal assessments to help remove barriers to accessing TB services, developing a handbook on best practices and innovative case-finding activities, and providing technical assistance to help countries implement Global Fund-supported interventions.
Deaths from drug-resistant TB – when tuberculosis bacteria do not respond to first-line TB drugs – now account for about one-third of all antimicrobial resistance deaths worldwide. The rise of antimicrobial resistance coincides with the growth of TB. Despite steady progress since 1990, the disease killed 1.7 million people in 2016 (including 400,000 HIV-positive people), surpassing HIV as the deadliest infectious disease globally.
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