In Focus

Tuberculosis emerges as key global health priority at World Health Assembly


Prior to the global health crisis triggered by COVID-19, tuberculosis ranked as the deadliest infectious disease worldwide

The Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly, currently underway in Geneva, has placed tuberculosis (TB) at the forefront of discussions on global health priorities. 

Ministers of Health, civil society leaders, partner organizations, and representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) have come together to share their insights and experiences, emphasizing the urgent need to end TB by 2030. 

The assembly, themed “WHO at 75: Saving lives, driving health for all,” has shed light on the challenges posed by TB and its intersection with antimicrobial resistance.

Dr. Atul Gawande, Deputy Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Ambassador Zbigniew Czech, Permanent Representative of Poland to the UN Office in Geneva, stressed the significance of forging stronger partnerships and integrating TB services into primary healthcare. This approach aims to enhance accessibility to TB diagnosis, treatment, and prevention measures.

Dr. Ethel Leonor Noia Maciel, Secretary of Health in Brazil, drew attention to the decline in TB service coverage during the pandemic. She underscored the importance of shared responsibility and resources across various sectors to address the fundamental drivers of the TB epidemic.

Zambia’s Minister of Health, Sylvia Masebo, hailing from one of the 30 high TB burden countries, acknowledged her nation’s ability to sustain progress despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Masebo shared valuable lessons on how the fight against TB and COVID-19 can reinforce pandemic preparedness efforts.

Prior to the global health crisis triggered by COVID-19, tuberculosis ranked as the deadliest infectious disease worldwide. The Global Tuberculosis Report 2022 revealed that the pandemic severely impacted access to TB diagnosis and treatment, reversing the progress made up to 2019 and derailing global TB targets.

Setiaji, Deputy Minister for Health Technology of Indonesia, highlighted his country’s innovative national health financing strategy aimed at providing equitable TB services. Additionally, Indonesia affirmed its commitment to advancing TB research, particularly in the development of new vaccines.

Leaders at the forefront of the battle against TB emphasized the crucial political momentum leading up to the upcoming second UN High-Level Meeting (HLM) on TB, scheduled for September. They recognized the HLM as a significant opportunity to galvanize political support and accelerate progress towards achieving the critical TB-related targets of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

As the World Health Assembly continues its deliberations, it reinforces the urgent need for collective action and international cooperation to combat tuberculosis, saving countless lives and driving health for all.

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