African Union Media Statement on World TB Day 2018

The African Union joins the world in commemorating the World TB Day. Africa’s Heads of State and Government have committed to concrete steps to end the TB epidemic.  Africa’s TB treatment success rate was in 2015 at 83% among new and relapse TB patients on treatment. Africa outpaced other regions in determining the HIV status of people infected with TB. Furthermore essential TB services such as testing and treatment are available free of charge in most countries in Africa.

In 2016 African leaders endorsed the Catalytic Framework to End AIDS, Tuberculosis and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030. This reinforced the 2012 African Union Roadmap on Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Response and the Common Africa Position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda that among other developmental and health agendas directed African Union Member States to take concerted action to end the epidemic of TB.

 While significant progress has been made in advancing TB surveillance, diagnostics, testing and treatment, the disease remains the ninth leading cause of death worldwide and the leading cause from a single infectious agent. In 2015 TB surpassed HIV as the number one infectious killer globally. TB and HIV are concurrent epidemics in Africa interacting synergistically, and contributing to excess burden of disease on the continent. This year’s global theme Wanted, Leaders for a TB-free world. You can make history. End TB, resonates with the need to accelerate our leadership efforts, create a social movement to address TB across the continent with global support to end TB as a public health threat in alignment with continental commitments. Africa accounts for more than half (53%) of the 30 high TB burden countries; over 76% of the countries with high TB/HIV burden and 30% of countries with a high burden of multi drug resistant TB. While significant progress has been made due to community action, shared responsibility and global solidarity the 2017 WHO Global TB report shows that new cases and death are increasing in Africa sending clear signals that more resources need to be allocated to respond to TB most effectively.

Furthermore it is worrying that case notification is stagnating. Research shows that drug resistance, including multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB), has reached alarming levels with the emergence of strains that are virtually untreatable with existing drugs. Africa’s health systems remain weak by international standards and inadequate coverage and weak performance of health services limit access to high-quality Tuberculosis care. Many private health providers are delinked from TB services provided by the public sector. There is an increase in TB associated with non-communicable diseases and risk-factors such as diabetes, tobacco-smoking, silicosis, alcohol and drug misuse, and malnutrition.

African Ministers of Health are seized with these immense challenges in addressing TB in Africa. Meeting during the Global Ministerial Conference on Tuberculosis (TB) in the context of Global Health and the Sustainable Development Goals in November 2017 in Moscow, Russian Federation, they discussed the Common Africa Position to UN High Level Meeting on TB. The Common Position had previously been discussed by Ministries of Health National TB Programme Managers and the Africa Partnership and Coordination Forum on AIDS, TB and Malaria. Further consultations on the Common Position will take place to ensure that Africa speaks with one voice on concrete actions to be taken to end TB as a public health threat by 2030. The recommendations in Common Africa Position are grouped around five strategic pillars: leadership, country ownership, governance and accountability; universal and equitable access to prevention, diagnosis, treatment, care and support; research and development to improve access to affordable and quality assured diagnostics, medicines, commodities and technology; health financing and strategic information.

Despite many competing development priorities the Africa Union will continue to soldier on through its newly established Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), WHO and partners to ensure that we move towards strengthened health systems, a new continental and regional public health order to address Africa's health security agenda and move towards adequate capacity to deal with the threat of infectious diseases. Achieving Africa’s Agenda 2063 for inclusive growth and structural transformation is predicated on addressing the health of our citizens.

H.E. Ms. Amira El Fadil, Commissioner for Social Affairs

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