By Blessing David
The World Health Organization WHO, has said that with 36% of all TB deaths occurring in Africa, failure to invest in the TB response, will take a formidable toll on African countries as such an increased investment can be a game-changer, and alleviate the preventable suffering and death of millions of people.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, made this known today in a message to commemorate the World TB Day that is observed on 24 March each year to raise public awareness and understanding about one of the global deadliest infectious diseases.
He stated that, at the UN High-Level, world leaders have agreed to mobilize US$13 billion per year to finance TB prevention and treatment by 2022 and promised another US$2 billion per year for TB research in the face of growing concerns around drug-resistant TB.
He decried that funding for TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment services continues to fall short of estimated global needs,hence there is need for increased funding from domestic and international donors to counteract a reversal of the significant gains made against TB in the past decades.
Adding that, at the current rate of progress, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target of ending the TB epidemic by 2030 may not be achievable.
Moeti stated that this year’s theme, “Invest to end TB. Save lives”, emphasizes the urgent need to invest the resources necessary to ramp up the fight against TB, and realize the commitments to end TB made by global leaders.
He continued that, In Africa, governments contribute only 22% of the resources required to deliver adequate TB services, with 44% going unfunded,which has remained an impeding efforts to reduce the TB burden.
He observed that, with 36% of all TB deaths occurring in Africa, failure to invest in the TB response is set to take a formidable toll on African countries. Increased investment can be a game-changer, and alleviate the preventable suffering and death of millions of the people.
He said the world saw an increase in the number of global TB deaths for the first time in over a decade in 2021. Contributing factors included reduced access to TB diagnosis and treatment, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHO therefore appeal to donors, private sector, civil society and academia to pay increased attention to urgently boosting investment in the fight against TB and in TB research, in order to accelerate technological breakthroughs as well as uptake of innovations towards ending TB by 2030.
WHO also call on governments to mobilize additional domestic financial support for TB control, including contributions to the Global Fund, which last month launched its US$18-billion Seventh Replenishment campaign in a bid to counter the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on the fight against TB.
He equally urged all stakeholders to advocate for increased investment,that will ensure TB services are integrated into the primary health care response just as all hands must work more closely with global communities to leverage on their expert local knowledge to tailor response efforts for maximum impact.