From calls to action to ambitious new plans, the global health community commemorates World TB Day

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Increasing Access to Child-Friendly TB Treatment: The TB Alliance announced today a partnership with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to include the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric TB in UNICEF child and maternal health programs around the world. It’s estimated that every year over half a million children suffer from TB and as many as 53 million are infected with latent TB. The partnership will “facilitate the uptake of the first appropriate, child-friendly TB treatments that TB alliance and its partners, UNITAID, are developing.” These treatments are expected to hit markets in 2016. The TB Alliance produced this powerful video on TB’s impact on children and their families.

South Africa announces ambitious new TB plan: The Stop TB Partnership’s executive secretary Dr. Lucica Ditiu’s World TB Day statement discusses South Africa’s bold new plan to screen for TB and provide treatment for vulnerable populations. “Without addressing the TB situation in miners and their families, prisoners, and children – no real progress can be made,” she wrote. The five-year campaign aims to ensure at least 90 percent of vulnerable and at risk populations are screened for TB, and for 90 percent of all TB cases in the country to be diagnosed and started on treatment, and to achieve 90 percent treatment success. The statement references numbers released by UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s panel on antimicrobial resistance today: “over the next 35 years, 75 million people could lose their lives to drug-resistant TB, and by 2050, the airborne infection could cost the global economy almost $17 trillion.”

Gear Up to End TB: The World Health Organization released this brochure to commemorate World TB Day and call for urgent action and increased investment to roll-out their new End TB Strategy. The strategy was developed after governments agreed on an ambitious 20-year strategy to end the global TB epidemic at the World Health Assembly last May. The strategy “sets targets and outlines actions for governments and partners to provide patient-centered care, pursue policies and systems that enable prevention and care, and drive research and innovations needed to end the epidemic and eliminate TB.” The WHO also released this infographic outlining the strategy.

The U.S. Government and Global Tuberculosis: The Kaiser Family Foundation released an updated factsheet outlining the global TB burden and the U.S. government response to the global TB epidemic, which includes an analysis on U.S. government funding for bilateral TB programs. The fiscal year 2016 request for the USAID TB program includes a 19 percent cut over the fiscal year 2015 level. If approved by Congress, it is will be the lowest level of funding since 2009.

ICAP Celebrates Major Milestones: In this statement released on World TB Day, ICAP, a leading global health service delivery organization, outlines its many programs to combat the global TB epidemic, including providing services for people co-infected with TB-HIV. Since 2004, ICAP has screened 825,000 people living with HIV for TB, has tested 365,000 TB patients for HIV, has treated 87,000 TB-HIV co-infected patients, and has provided 133,000 HIV patients with treatment to prevent TB. Programs include supporting the development of health clinics in correctional facilities in Swaziland to provide TB screening to prisoners, providing migrant mineworkers with same-day TB diagnosis and treatment in Lesotho, and establishing the Pediatric Center for Excellence in Tanzania to screen and treat children co-infected with TB-HIV, whose symptoms often go unnoticed.

Common Sense – Preventing TB in the US: This white paper released today by Stop TB USA urges a more robust national TB response which focuses on diagnosing and treating latent TB to prevent future active cases. “To eliminate TB as a public health threat and mitigate the risk of future outbreaks, we need to make screening and treatment more accessible for people living with TB infection before they progress to TB disease. Treating TB infection is the safest, cheapest, and most effective way to prevent this progression,” the paper says. The paper references an Institute of Medicine study of TB in the U.S. which concluded that finding and treating the estimated 10-15 million people living with TB infection is essential to eliminating TB disease in the U.S. “The report found that the U.S. government could better prevent TB disease by improving screening and treatment for TB infection, specifically through efforts targeted toward those most at risk.”

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