Accelerating action to end the TB and HIV epidemics in the Western Pacific Region
02 April 2019 - Inspired by commitments made at the first UN high level meeting on TB in 2018, the WHO Regional Office of the Western Pacific Region organised a ‘Joint TB and HIV programme managers meeting' to bring together key stakeholders to accelerate action to end the dual epidemics of TB and HIV in the region. The meeting with the theme: “Building Bridges to Strengthen our Responses” was held in Manila, Philippines on 12-14 March 2019, with a focus on revitalising primary health care towards achieving universal health coverage, supporting the rapid uptake of new guidelines, expanding access to diagnostics and new drugs, harnessing digital technologies and capitalizing on the changed financial landscape.
The meeting reviewed the current status of the burden and response to both epidemics and shared best practices of TB/HIV collaboration at the country level. More than 90 participants came together at the meeting, including representatives from national TB, HIV and Communicable Diseases programmes, partners, civil society organisations and affected populations.
“The UN High-Level Meeting on TB last year was monumental,” said Dr. Lui Yunguo, Director of Program Management of the WHO Western Pacific Region. “This is the perfect time for us to review and renew our commitment towards achieving our goals. Through this meeting, we will identify priority actions to strengthen joint efforts for both TB and HIV programmes”.
Participants shared the vision of joint planning and integrated action of TB and HIV programmes to gain further efficiencies towards UHC to End TB and HIV in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The voices of affected community were well-heard and appreciated at the meeting, especially through the simulation exercise and online polling – where all participants opted for more synergy. The below word cloud is a great summary of the COMMON VISION.
The participants pledged to further strengthen TB/HIV collaborative efforts through finding and treating the missing people with TB or HIV, accelerating the provision of preventive treatment for TB in people living with HIV (PLHIV), strengthening integrated surveillance systems and governance mechanisms, and ensuring multi-sectoral responses. The meeting prioritized the following Ways Forward for strengthening collaboration:
Find and treat:
- Reviewing both programmes to ensure that people are tested for both TB and HIV, ensure joint training, supervision and support for health care workers at all levels of TB-HIV service provision
- Maximising collaboration with civil society organizations and private partners
- Addressing the high price of commodities through pooled procurement
- Enhancing utilisation of digital technologies for treatment adherence
Preventive treatment for TB in PLHIV:
- Setting country-specific targets in line with UN high level meeting commitments, develop plans and allocate resources to reach all eligible for TB preventive treatment
- Maximising opportunities to improve prevention coverage
- Identifying the information needed to ensure a comprehensive and joint approach to TB-HIV person-centred care, then identify workable information technology (IT) solutions
- Establishing or strengthening integrated surveillance for latent TB infection
- Leveraging high level and multi-sectoral commitment and collaboration to ensure accountability at all levels
- Ensuring that communities are at the centre of the response at all levels
- Continuing to develop sustainable domestic funding models and consider provider payment methods to support improved programme performance
Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme and Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of HIV Programme, highlighted:"The world needs our joint action now more than ever, to deliver globally agreed goals for both diseases. TB and HIV can be defeated best by working together, finding integrated and innovative solutions and creating better values for stronger health systems. We are certain that we can make rapid progress in overcoming common challenges. Together we are stronger”.
Countries identified their major priorities and action areas which need to be further discussed at the country level, refined and finalized. WHO committed to follow up on the country action plans and coordinate technical assistance as specified and requested by the country in line with the action plan.
Dr Tauhid Islam, Coordinator, End TB and Dr Naoko Ishikawa, Coordinator, HIV, Hepatitis and STI, WHO Western Pacific Region added, "We all are committed to strengthen our joint responses, build the bridges where necessary and use the bridges built.”
Representatives of affected communities and civil society highly appreciated the meeting highlighting that it enhanced learning for the improvement of community services to strengthen TB/HIV responses. Jeff Acaba, member of Global civil society task force said, “It was an interactive and innovative meeting in terms of session designs, and more especially, for inviting civil society organizations like APCASO. I would like to see more participation from civil society and TB-affected communities’ in future meetings. I believe that we are on the right track”.