We need people – people like those in TB Alert, who are focused and ambitious and care for people at grass roots in the UK, India and Africa. Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership
He writes, in the EU the fight against TB costs €15m per week and €750m per year in medical costs and leads to the death of seven people per hour. Most worrying is the growing number of multi drug resistant (MDR) and extensively resistant TB cases, which are more costly and difficult to treat. Curing an MDR TB case can be 100 times more expensive than a ‘normal’ TB case. To address this threat and stem the increase of all forms of TB, €750m annual funding is required to detect and treat 90 per cent of MDR TB patients.
A clear signal for immediate action in the EU should be given by the five EU member states (Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia) that are among the top 28 MDR TB high burden countries worldwide, registering a very low treatment success rate. Romania’s treatment success, for example, is much below that of Kazakhstan, or even the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Claudiu calls for urgent action from the EU and endemic countries to cope with the growing, cross-border health threat:
- At the EU level, the commission should fully finance and implement the World Health Organisaton (WHO) action plan on DR TB for the period 2011-2015
- The commission and EU member states should commit the necessary resources to the 2013 replenishment of the global fund to fight Aids, TB and malaria
- Public-private partnerships and community groups should be employed to reach populations with TB awareness messages that are unreached through traditional governmental programmes
- The commission should address the €750m funding gap for research and development for TB