Tuberculosis (TB)

WHO Director-General calls for urgent country action to meet UN High-Level Meeting targets in letters to Heads of State in historic Town Hall to End TB

31 July 2019 | Geneva - The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has written to Heads of State of 48 high TB burden countries urging an acceleration of country action to meet End TB targets, including the new targets set at the United Nations General Assembly high-level meeting on the fight against TB. Acknowledging the commitments and efforts made by these countries towards ending TB, Dr Tedros emphasized that strong and visionary leadership is needed now more than ever to drive progress in high burden countries, and to end the suffering and death caused by this preventable and curable disease. The Director-General also encouraged Heads of State to establish national multisectoral accountability mechanisms under the leadership of the Heads of State with active involvement of communities and stakeholders, and in line with the WHO Multisectoral Accountability Framework launched in May 2019.

The new targets for 2022 are: (1) to provide appropriate diagnosis and treatment to 40 million people with TB, including 3.5 million children and 1.5 million people with drug-resistant TB; (2) to reach at least 30 million people with preventive treatment, including 4 million children under the age of five, 6 million people living with HIV and 20 million other household contacts of people affected by TB; (3) to mobilize US$13 billion annually needed by 2022 for implementation; and, (4) to mobilize US$ 2 billion annually for TB research and innovation.

“The bold targets in the political declaration of the UN High Level Meeting are intended to galvanise much-needed national and global action to end the TB epidemic,” said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme. “This is why the letters sent by our Director-General Dr Tedros to Heads of State are important to keep the spotlight on promises made to accelerate the TB response. It is critical now more than ever to keep the foot on the pedal, national and sub-national targets will help drive a united response at all levels saving millions from suffering and death”.

To deliver on these commitments, WHO is currently working closely with Stop TB Partnership and the Global Fund to coordinate with countries, partners, civil society and other stakeholders to support national programmes in planning and implementing actions towards reaching the 2022 targets and beyond.

“We have a collective responsibility to reach the UNHLM targets by the end of 2022. Everyone has their part to do and every country has a number of people with TB to be diagnosed and treated if we want to reach the global targets. This is why we at Stop TB, using the WHO latest available data and working with Avenir Institute Model developed country based indicative targets that can be used for the NSPs as well as funding requests. We will be able to end TB only together,” said Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership.

High TB burden countries should urgently translate global targets into national targets, the indicative targets developed by the Stop TB Partnership can help in this regard.

Mr Peter Sands, Executive Director, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, emphasized, “The UN High-Level Meeting in 2018 demonstrated much greater political commitment to tackling TB, but now we need to deliver. We urgently need increased international funding to fight TB,and increased domestic resource mobilization. Together we must step up the fight to diagnose and cure the millions currently being left untreated, and to counter the threat of drug-resistant TB. We can only reach the goal of ending TB as an epidemic by 2030 if we act now.”

The WHO Director-General is working in close collaboration with the United Nations Secretary-General to provide a global report on progress towards ending TB in 2020. This report will inform a comprehensive review by Heads of State and Government at a high-level meeting in 2023.