Johannesburg: A five-year global plan to stop tuberculosis (TB) has been launched here by Geneva-based Stop TB Partnership, a World Health Organization linked body
which plays a similar role in relation to tuberculosis that UNAIDS plays for HIV and AIDS.
The plan says that the world could be on its way towards eliminating TB if governments and donors fully invested in it.
`The Global Plan to Stop TB 2011-2015: Transforming the Fight-Towards Elimination of Tuberculosis` identifies for the first time all the research gaps that need to be filled to
bring rapid TB tests, faster treatment regimens and a fully effective vaccine to market.
It also shows public health programmes how to drive universal access to TB care, including how to modernize diagnostic laboratories and adopt revolutionary TB tests that
have recently become available.
"There is an urgent need to scale up action against TB - 10 million people, including four million women and children will lose their lives unnecessarily between now and 2015 if we fail," said Margaret Chan, Director-General of World Health Organization (WHO), which hosts the Stop TB Partnership.
TB control works, with global incidence of disease declining since 2004, although much too slowly. Twenty-two countries, including South Africa, bear 80 per cent of the
burden of TB worldwide.
Some nine million people become ill with active TB and nearly two million die each year.
The new Global Plan sets out to provide diagnosis and treatment approaches recommended by WHO for 32 million people over the next five years.
"In South Africa we have embarked on an ambitious agenda for reducing the toll of TB on our people, and we are committed to meeting the Global Plan`s targets," said Aaron
Motsoaledi, Minister of Health of South Africa. "We call on world leaders to invest in the plan, which can help move us towards ridding the world of TB."
The Global Plan provides a clear roadmap for addressing drug-resistant TB. It calls for 7 million people to be tested for multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and one million
confirmed cases treated according to international standards over the next five years. Half-a-million people die each year from HIV-associated TB.
Provided the plan`s targets were met, by the end of 2015, all TB patients would be tested for HIV and if the test positive, then they would receive anti-retroviral drugs and
other appropriate HIV care. In HIV treatment settings, all patients will be screened for TB and receive appropriate preventive therapy or treatment as needed.
The Global Plan calls for USD 37 billion for implementation of TB care between 2011 and 2015. A funding gap of about USD 14 billion - approximately USD 2.8 billion per
year - will remain and needs to be filled by international donors.