Interview with WHO Stop TB Director, Dr Mario Raviglione,
on how the resolution will strengthen TB control
Question: How will the resolution strengthen long-term planning on TB control?
Answer: The resolution clearly endorsed the need for each country to establish a long-term plan in line with the Global Plan to Stop TB, and to implement all six components of the WHO Stop TB Strategy. Ministers are expected to allocate sufficient resources towards tuberculosis so that national TB control programmes can put in place the measures needed to make improvements. The resolution is therefore an important step forward in global TB control.
Q What are the main points of the resolution?
A The resolution focuses on the full implementation of the new Stop TB Strategy to ensure that the 2015 TB targets are achieved. Those targets are the TB-related Millennium Development Goal, to have halted and begun to reverse incidence, and the Stop TB Partnership's targets of halving prevalence and deaths by 2015. It also emphasises the need for good DOTS programmes as the basis for robust TB control, and the need to prevent, as a priority, the spread of MDR-TB and XDR-TB, and calls for WHO to enhance its role in tuberculosis research.
Q What actions does the TB resolution request from Member States themselves?
A The resolution reminds Member States that the Stop TB Strategy needs to be fully implemented, beginning with a solid and high quality DOTS programme, complemented by other measures, including controlling MDR-TB, and to provide access to proper diagnosis and treatment to TB patients. It also calls for affected countries to consider XDR-TB as the highest health priority, and to declare TB as an emergency where appropriate.
Q What were the prominent TB themes from this year's World Health Assembly?
A Many Member States requested the full support of WHO in providing technical assistance to their TB programmes, and to identify the necessary gaps in TB resources. Concern over the spread of XDR-TB was also a recurring theme that caught the attention of many delegates, as was the call to the international TB community to help strengthen or establish access to anti-TB drugs in many countries.
Q How will this resolution affect the work of the WHO Stop TB Department?
A The WHO Stop TB Department will be responding to the issues by intensifying further our support in the field with particular attention to the importance of high-quality DOTS, and action on prevention, treatment and control of MDR-TB and XDR-TB. This will require additional resources that we will now need to target to ensure Members States can build capacity to respond effectively and robustly now and in the future.