Dear members and friends of IFMSA,
I write to you as we are all amidst planning and preparations for an intense week of activities around the 2014 World Tuberculosis Day – themed “Reaching the three million people with TB who are missed by health systems”. On occasion of this significant Day, we would like to extend our own message:
In accordance with the World Tuberculosis (TB) Report, TB remains a major global health issue. In 2012, an estimated 8.6 million people developed TB and 1.3 million died from the disease. The number of TB deaths is unacceptably large given that most are preventable.
Nearly 20 years after the WHO declaration of TB as a global public health emergency, major progress has been made towards 2015 global targets set within the context of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Two years ahead of the deadline, the Global Tuberculosis Report 2013 and accompanying supplement Countdown to 2015 assess progress towards the 2015 targets and identified the top priority actions needed to achieve and/or move beyond them:
1. Reach the missed cases. About 3 million people who developed TB in 2012 are missed by the national notification systems. It is of great importance to detect people with the illness and ensure that that they get the right treatment and care by their health systems while also being supported nongovernmental organizations, community workers and volunteers to diagnose and report cases; in addition intensified collaboration with public hospitals and private health facilities who are treating patients but not reporting; instituting mandatory notification of cases in more countries; and better data compilation are needed.
2. Address Multi Drug Resistant – TB as a public health crisis. In high MDR-TB burden countries, increased capacity to diagnose MDR-TB must be matched with supplies of quality drugs and scaled-up country capacity to deliver effective treatment and care. This will require high-level political will and leadership and more collaboration among partners, including drug regulatory authorities, donor and technical agencies, civil society and the pharmaceutical industry.
3. Accelerate the response to TB/HIV. One of the top priorities include complete coverate of HIV-positive patients with TB. Preventive treatment among people living with HIV is the second priority.
4. Increase financing to close all resource gaps. An estimated US$ 7–8 billion per year is required for a full response to the TB epidemic in low- and middle-income countries in 2014 and 2015 (excluding research and development for new TB diagnostics, drugs and vaccines). Funding in 2013 is about US$ 6 billion. Increases in both domestic and donor financing are needed to close the gap of up to US$ 2 billion per year, including via the full replenishment of the Global Fund in 2013. Progress remains fragile and could be reversed without adequate funding.
5. Ensure rapid uptake of innovations. The fast uptake of new tools and strategies for better diagnosis, treatment and prevention of all forms of TB can be accelerated by country-specific operational research and translation of findings into policy and practice.
“Imagine a world free of poverty. A world, where quality of life guarantees human dignity. A world, where everyone exercises basic human rights. A world, where all children will live to their fullest potential. That, is the dream the World Bank shares with all member nations. But, that dream will remain a mere dream, unless we join hands to overcome major global threats to the poor and the marginalized people around the world. Without question, tuberculosis is one such threat, and its control must be on the global development agenda.”
Ms Mieko Nishimizu, Stop TB Partnership
In the words of Ms. Nishimizu it is our belief that each person is to be made aware of the issue of spread of TB and receive access the proper ways to protect oneself and ones’ family from this burden. Good-quality primary health care and good quality public health services that are easily accessible are of vital importance. Prevention, early recognition and adequate treatment of TB must remain an integrated part of health care systems. All doctors must constantly be aware of the fact that TB is not an uncommon. They should be especially alert when they are dealing with immuno-compromised patients, patients from other countries or patients from the population of the homeless.
Member Organizations of IFMSA have always been deeply involved in tackling Tuberculosis as a Public Health concern and annually organize an array of activities related to:
- Screening for TB
- Educating the general public through awareness campaigns about TB
- Educating fellow students through peer education methods
- Advocating for development of improved strategies for earlier recognition of infection
- Contributing to making scientific advances that will enable earlier diagnosis as well as better therapies or vaccines
In order to better understand the issue of reaching out to the people with TB missed by the health systems we provide you with The Joint Brochure of the WHO, Stop TB Partnership and Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria on occasion of the World TB Day 2014 related to how we can address the issue.
Warmest of Regards,
Director on Public Health
International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations