October 25, 2001. News.
World Bank, WHO launch TB plan
By Carl Bialik
The World Bank and World Health Organization announced Tuesday they were launching a five-year plan to reverse the worldwide tuberculosis epidemic, which last year claimed nearly two million lives. The two organizations, as part of a broader coalition known as the Stop TB partnership, estimated the plan would cost $9.3 billion to implement and called on governments around the world to close the funding gap of $4.5 billion.
Sub-Saharan Africa has been especially hard hit by the TB epidemic, with annual growth in infection rates of 10 percent recently. TB is one of the leading causes of death among AIDS sufferers, as it opportunistically overcomes their weakened immune systems. Twenty-two countries account for almost 80 percent of the global TB burden; eight of these are in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
In Uganda, up to 30,000 cases of tuberculosis are reported each year, and some officials estimate the actual number as twice as high, or even greater. As of April, only 10 of 53 districts nationwide had access to TB treatment. Ugandan health authorities set a three-year target of providing treatment to most TB sufferers but warned that more funding would be needed to reach that goal.
The Global Plan to Stop TB made clear that a financial shortfall is impeding treatment of TB patients worldwide. The partnership endorses DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment, Short-Course), a strategy of treating TB patients with a regimen of medicines in ways that ensure success of the treatment. The Bank said DOTS can cost as little as $10 per patient and achieves success rates of 90 percent, yet only one in four TB sufferers worldwide receive the DOTS treatment.
Afghanistan and Pakistan are among the countries with the highest TB infection rates. With hundreds of thousands of refugees already living along the two countries’ borders and more feeling Afghanistan in the wake of the U.S. bombing, the TB situation could worsen.
More than 120 groups formed the Stop TB partnership in 1998. Among them was George Soros’ Open Society Institute, which financed initial development of the global plan. The Partnership met at a first-ever forum in Washington, DC Monday and Tuesday.Copyright © 2002 Carl Bialik
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