The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday unveiled a new five-year plan to help fight tuberculosis (TB).
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday unveiled a new five-year plan to help fight tuberculosis (TB), which affects millions of people globally every year.
“We have done similar launches in Davos [Switzerland], but this time we said let us go where the problem is,” said the WHO’s Mario Raviglione at the launch in Alexandra, Johannesburg, of the Global Plan to stop TB.
As one of the countries ravaged by the disease, South Africa was very important in the fight against TB.
The plan hoped to close research gaps to bring fast TB tests and fast treatment.
The WHO had called for partnership between the public and private sectors across the world to put more money into helping find new drugs to combat the disease.
“We are not saying that we will solve a problem that has been with us for many years. What want to do in the five years, is to increase the current 86% cure rate for TB to 90% by 2015.”
Importance of community participation
Also speaking at the launch, Gauteng health minister Qedani Mahlangu emphasised the importance of community participation in the fight against the infectious disease.
She said the province had raised awareness about the disease and had an 83% cure rate.
South Africa had the world’s third highest number of TB cases after China and India.
Globally, the disease claimed two million lives a year and about nine million people contracted TB each year.
Rifat Atun, chair of the Stop TB Partnership coordinating board, said the plan was a timely answer to the call for a new framework to fight the scourge.
He said for it to be successful, $32-million in funding would have to found.
The relationship between HIV/Aids and TB had added to the spike in TB cases between the 1980s and 2004.
“The risk of TB is 20 to 37 times higher in people living with HIV than in general population ... Under this plan, in HIV treatment settings, all patients will be screened for TB and receive appropriate preventive or treatment as needed,” said Atun.
He said by 2015 four new vaccines would be at the final stage of testing before they come to market.—Sapa