At 73rd World Health Assembly, The Union urges Member States to prioritise TB care and treatment during the pandemic

At the 73rd meeting of the World Health Assembly – which is, for the very first time, taking place virtually due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – The Union has submitted a statement urging Member States to prioritise TB care and treatment during the pandemic to prevent catastrophic loss of life.

The Union statement is reproduced here in full:

“The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung disease (The Union) notes with alarm the recent results from The Stop TB Partnership’s report that the impact of a global three-month lockdown and a protracted 10-month restoration could lead to an additional 6.3 million cases of TB between 2020 and 2025, and an additional 1.4 million TB deaths during this time, setting the fight against TB back by at least five years.

“We ask Member States to outline concrete steps they will take to ensure that the fight against TB will be prioritised and that they continue to strive to meet the END TB strategy targets. Diversion of resources or workforce to the COVID-19 response is likely to result in poor quality TB care, treatment interruptions and inadequate follow-up. Interventions such as TB contact investigation and preventive therapy are likely to be completely de-prioritised. What COVID-19 should be teaching us is that prevention is key. Health authorities should maintain support to essential TB services, including during emergencies such as COVID-19. People-centred delivery of TB prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care services should be ensured in tandem with the COVID-19 response.

“Research investment into the tools to fight COVID-19 is vital and The Union requests Member States commit to the sharing of research knowledge, data and intellectual property and that new tools for COVID-19 are affordable and accessible to all those who need them.

“As the world mobilises to contain COVID-19, we must learn from the way we’ve fought other diseases. Removing human rights barriers to healthcare, addressing stigma directed toward at-risk groups and people with the disease, and recognising the importance of communities in supporting health systems and people affected are critical to an effective response.

 

On Wednesday, 20 May, from 16:00 CEST Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership will join José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union, and other members of the global TB community to discuss ‘How to prevent 1.4 million deaths – advancing TB care and prevention in a time of #COVID19’.

The other panelists at this open access webinar will be:

  • Tereza Kaseava, Director of the Global TB Programme, World Health Organization
  • Marijke Wijrokes, Chief of Staff, The Global Fund
  • Catharina Boehme, Chief Executive, Finddx
  • Subrat Mohanty, Project Director, The Union South East Asia Office
  • Cheri Vincent, Head of the Infectious Diseases Division, USAID

The panel will be moderated by Victoria Macdonald, Health and Social Care Editor for Channel 4 News.

Register now.

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