Call for action to ‘bend the curve to end TB’ in South East Asia - at recent Regional Ministerial Meeting

WHO SEARO organized a key meeting, at ministerial level, to accelerate action towards ending TB as a public health problem by 2030.

The meeting of Hon Health Ministers of South East Asia Region (SEAR) Member States was held 15-16 March 2017 in New Delhi, India. Many important technical and financial partners participated. Discussions highlighted that in 2015 in SEAR an estimated 4.74 million people developed TB and over 710,000 died from the disease. Despite considerable efforts by state and non state actors, the annual decline of TB incidence remains 1.5% to 2% -- which is considered too slow to achieve WHO’s End TB targets and sustainable development goals by 2030. Attaining Universal Health Coverage will be a crucial pre-requisite - as mentioned in the Call for Action issued by the Ministers of Health. TB is a priority. Commitments include increased investment towards ending TB in the Region by 2030, universal access to high quality TB care in all sectors, resolve to tackle multi drug resistant TB and patient-centered support.

WHO Regional Director, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, declared to make TB the 8th Regional Flagship to support implementation of these efforts. SEAR is establishing a “bending the TB curve initiative” to facilitate this movement. Myanmar’s delegation, led by HE Union Minister of Health and Sports, Dr Myint Htwe, played a very active role in the discussions and in the Call for Action. In fact, Myanmar has been adapting and implementing new strategies to improve TB prevention and care -- including data and information derived from surveillance and surveys. Further, community involvement and active case detection will be important strategies ‘to bend the curve’.