WHO global TB symposium

News Hour:

This year’s Global TB Symposium, organised by the World Health Organization (WHO) focused on the value of exploring the latest data on tuberculosis (TB) under the theme of Know Your Epidemic: Driving Change to End TB.

This all-day pre-conference event, chaired by Mario Raviglione, Director of the Global TB Programme, was opened with a speech from the Executive Director of The Union, José Luis Castro, who reflected on how the themes of both the Global TB Symposium and The Union World Conference reflect our drive to end TB. He said:

“We have committed to end TB by 2030.  To reach that goal we will have to have a bigger impact and make faster progress to a greater degree than we have achieved before.

“We all know that change is not easy – especially in face of resistance, but if we work together and support each other, we can do it”.

Morning sessions, under the heading Know Your Epidemic, focused on understanding the facts of the global TB epidemic and discussed the challenges posed by the sombre conclusions of the WHO Global TB Report 2016.

The report, published earlier this month, shows that the TB epidemic surpasses previous estimates – with 10.4 million new TB cases recorded worldwide in 2015, of which 10% were in children. It also warns that global investment and action need to be significantly increased if we are to end TB for good.

The afternoon sessions focused on progress in rallying political will and civil society, while the symposium’s later sessions looked at how to take a clear understanding of the epidemic and transform knowledge into action.

Erica Lessem, TB/HIV Project Director of The Treatment Action Group drew attention to the drastic shortfall in funding for TB research and development and the need for unified action to address this.

The meeting closed with Eric Goosby, UN Special Envoy on TB, introducing the powerful testimony of Phumeza Tisile of South Africa, a survivor of XDR-TB.

“My story has a happy ending’, she said, but went on to ask delegates to always bear in mind the people behind the statistics and to think of them not only as patients, but also as partners in the fight against TB.

Mario Raviglione closed the symposium noting some of the recurrent themes of the day, including the need for increased community engagement, the potential for developing new regimen profiles, how efficiencies such as cost benefit analysis can be used to garner political will and how we must use technology to ensure effective data analysis.

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