World Health Assembly Calls for Action on Drug-Resistant TB

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 The close of the 62nd World Health Assembly included a resolution on combating drug-resistant tuberculosis, a particularly welcome development given that TB almost got knocked off the WHA agenda because of a heavy focus on the influenza A(H1N1) virus.

The WHA meeting of health ministers and officials from the World Health Organization member states ended a few days early, so experts could grapple with the still-evolving influenza situation. “At the start of the Assembly there appeared a possibility that debate on the [TB] Resolution would be deferred because of the need for extensive discussions on Influenza A (H1N1) and the fact that the Assembly had been shortened to five days,” according to a missive from the WHO. “But several WHO Member States intervened, stressing that passage of this resolution was an urgent matter and could not wait.” 

The WHO missive says that research for new TB diagnostics, medicines and vaccines will be prioritized through support for extra financing and the WHO will work with member states to develop national TB response plans that address drug-resistant strains of the disease.  

Here’s a summary from the WHO about the assembly’s action on TB:

Prevention and control of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis
The resolution endorsed strict quality standards for the provision of anti-TB drugs and efforts to limit their misuse. They also agreed to strengthen measures to make access universal to M/XDR-TB diagnosis and quality treatment. Research for new TB diagnostics, medicines and vaccines is prioritized under the resolution through support for extra financing. At the same time, WHO will also work with Member States to develop national TB response plans that will prevent more people from getting drug-resistant tuberculosis, and diagnose and treat those that do.

Click here for a PDF of the resolution.

Here’s a link to a statement on drug-resistant TB, made at the meeting by Dr. Tido von Schoen-Angerer, of  Médecins Sans Frontières. http://www.msfaccess.org/main/tuberculosis/intervention-by-medecins-sans-frontieres-on-tuberculosis-at-world-health-assembly-2009/

And here’s a link to the full WHO news release on the WHA meeting.

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2009/world_health_assembly_20090522/en/index.html

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