25 September 2018

Namibia: UN Assembly to Hold High-Level Meeting On TB

Photo: Sydelle Willow Smith/MSF
A South African patient prepares to take her medication for drug-resistant TB.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will tomorrow hold its first-ever high-level meeting on the fight against Tuberculosis (TB), under the theme "United to end tuberculosis: an urgent global response to a global epidemic".

The meeting aims at accelerating efforts in ending TB and reaching all affected people with prevention and care.

World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative, Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses said Namibia is considered one of the 30 high TB burden countries in the world.

The current TB estimate is 446 cases per 100,000 according to 2016 statistics, Sagoe-Moses highlighted. This means the country has seen a decline in the new cases over the years, however, there is a need to accelerate the progress in line with the End TB Strategy by 2030, stressed Sagoe-Moses.

"Ending the TB epidemic requires action beyond the health sector to address the risk factors and determinants of the disease. Commitments at the level of Heads of State will be essential to galvanise multi-sectoral action," noted Sagoe-Moses.

"The high-level meeting should result in an ambitious Political Declaration on TB endorsed by Heads of State that will strengthen action and investments for the end TB response, saving millions of lives," added Sagoe-Moses.

The UN General Assembly meeting on TB follows the Global Ministerial Conference on Ending TB which was held on 16-17 November 2017, in Moscow, resulting in high-level commitments from nearly 120 countries to accelerate the End TB response as expressed in the Moscow Declaration to End TB.

Furthermore, he stated that the WHO with other partners has provided technical guidance for the development of the strategies and guidelines for the management of Tuberculosis in the country.

The current costed Tuberculosis Leprosy Medium Term Plan III is one such example which has enabled the country to mobilise resources from the Global Fund, said Sagoe-Moses. "WHO also continues to provide technical assistance for the conduct of the TB prevalence study to provide more accurate estimates of the burden of the disease in the country," he stated. Domestic funding to TB has increased over the past ten years, and this remains the highest proportion of funding to the programme, highlighted Sagoe-Moses.

"The challenge to the country is to sustain this level of funding, particularly as the external resources dwindle," he stated.

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