I am speaking on behalf of the 53 Member States of the European Region of the WHO.
The European Region thanks the WHO secretariat for the detailed report. We support the new comprehensive global strategy for tuberculosis prevention, care and control after 2015. We endorse adopting the vision, the goal, and the ambitious targets of the strategy that encompass the three pillars of strengthened tuberculosis care and prevention, stronger policies and health systems and intensified research and innovation. We encourage WHO to continue and further intensify its work on tuberculosis prevention, control and care to help realize the vision of a TB-free world.
Despite significant achievements regarding MDR in our Region, MDR and X-DR TB remain a major threat for elimination of TB in EURO Region.
TB mainly affects the poorest and the persons in the most vulnerable situations. The success of tuberculosis control will depend to a great extent on all persons with tuberculosis getting timely treatment without having to bear heavy financial and social burdens. Furthermore, successful prevention strategies, early diagnosis, universal susceptibility testing for the diagnosis of multi-resistant cases, treatment of multidrug-resistant cases, screening of high-risk groups and social support are also critical for the success of the new global strategy. Organizing, expanding and sustaining services for tuberculosis prevention, diagnosis, treatment and support will require overall strengthening of health systems and social services as well as sustained financing. It will also require reaching out towards persons in the most vulnerable situations, such as migrants, substance abusers, slum dwellers, the homeless and people living with HIV and AIDS. Therefore we strongly support the call within the new TB strategy for the implementation of universal health coverage and social protection mechanisms as fundamental means to control public health challenges such as TB, MDR-TB and X-DR. TB patients who do not complete their treatment may relapse which in turn leads to a higher risk of MDR-TB and X-DR, this may be the case, for example with alcohol or narcotic abusers.
As outlined in the global strategy, a comprehensive response to TB is needed. Comprehensive tuberculosis prevention and care, including treatment of co-morbidities, and social protection will thus require a multi-sectoral and integrated approach.
The Strategy is very ambitious and it is a challenge to transform its aspirations into reality. High as well as low incidence countries need to achieve reduction of TB incidence; goals and measures should therefore be adjusted to different epidemiological situations.
Access to TB prevention, control and care, and the full commitment of all stakeholders is paramount to achieving the ambitious targets conducive to the elimination of TB as a public health threat within this generation. The European Region commits to support the strategy and to invest within its borders and internationally where needed, and similarly urges all stakeholders to commit, cooperate and act together to end the TB epidemic.