Special Envoy applauds success but notes need to catch the one third of missed new cases of TB. Lauds reduction in new infections and lowered mortality rate of TB. Urges more aggressive identification of nearly 3 million “missed” new cases of TB annually and greater focus on more virulent strains of TB to avert public health crisis.
New York, NY: Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its Global Tuberculosis Report 2013. Ray Chambers, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Financing the Health MDGs and for Malaria, acknowledged both the progress and significant remaining challenges highlighted in the report.
“The 2013 report is a forceful call-to-action for more aggressive approaches on a global and country level to fighting tuberculosis. Despite some clear positive trends, including a 45% reduction in TB mortality since 1990, the fact remains that our progress on TB is far too slow. It will take decades at our current pace of progress for developing countries to achieve the same levels of TB mortality of developed nations.
TB remains a global scourge: it caused 1.3 million deaths in 2012; it contributes significantly to global poverty; and it is a disease with virulent strains that are resistant to existing first-line treatments.
We must summon the will to do more to get on a path towards defeating tuberculosis. I applaud the WHO for its focus on the need to identify the one third of new cases each year that go undiagnosed, roughly 3 million “missed” cases out of 8.6 million in 2012. The WHO report calls for important interventions and scale-up of services to health systems so that we can better diagnose, report and treat all people with TB.
We must also recognize the urgent need to tackle the problem of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) by summoning high-level political will and heightened cooperation among key partners, including drug regulatory authorities, technical agencies, the pharmaceutical industry and civil society. All must commit to addressing the most lethal and difficult-to-treat strains of the disease. Not doing so is almost sure to result in a public health crisis.
Finally, we must insure that adequate funding is in place to win this fight. We need a strong replenishment of the Global Fund to Fights AIDS, TB and Malaria at its target level of $15 billion. And we look to the BRICS countries – Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa, which carry nearly 50% of the global TB burden – to increase their domestic funding of their TB response, including a commitment to finding and treating thousands of missing cases.
We have the tools, the know-how and much of the funding needed to defeat TB. With fewer than 800 days until the 2015 deadline of the Millennium Development Goals, the WHO report challenges us to summon the will to succeed in our quest.”