Kathmandu: The World Health Organization has called for urgent, sustained and adequate investments in ending TB to save lives and secure a more equitable and sustainable future for all.
In a statement on the eve of World TB Day, WHO said it is highlighting the urgent need for national, international and global stakeholders to invest at least USD three billion annually in the South-East Asia Region to avert new TB cases and deaths.
The funding will avert nearly 4.5 million new TB cases and prevent more than 1.5 million TB deaths by 2025, WHO said in a statement.
In 2020, amid the Covid-19 response, TB caused an estimated 1.5 million deaths globally, up from 1.4 million in 2019.
In the region, estimated TB and TB-HIV mortality increased by nearly 10 percent in 2020, to over 700,000 lives lost – a trend that is likely to continue, if not worsen, unless urgent action is taken.
In all countries of the Region, WHO continues to accelerate efforts to end TB, in line with its flagship priorities, the global End TB Strategy, the UN Political Declaration on the Fight Against TB, and Sustainable Development Goal target 3.3, said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia.
In October 2021, India, Indonesia and Nepal co-hosted a high-level meeting at which Member States committed to renewing the TB response, building on the legacy of the 2018 Delhi End TB Summit and the Region’s Statement of Action.
At the meeting, member states endorsed a new Regional Strategic Plan (2021–2025), which among other features, provides a detailed account of funding shortfalls for priority interventions. Between 2015 and 2021, domestic budgets for national TB programs tripled, from US$ 168 million to USD 558 million.
Throughout the Covid-19 response, countries have made commendable efforts to maintain essential health services, including for TB, reads the statement.
In all countries of the region, social and economic support for TB patients must be enhanced, better integrated into social protection services, and delineated into measures that are TB-specific, TB-inclusive and TB-sensitive, according to WHO.