AU applauds historic UN Political Declaration to end TB
New York, 28 September 2018: For the first time in the history of global health, the UN adopted the Political Declaration on the Fight against Tuberculosis, a global compact for joint action to define a shared vision to scale up TB prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care towards universal coverage as well as address the menace of drug resistant TB that severely affects the African continent.
‘Africa is currently the fastest growing region globally and is on the threshold of sustained transformation required to move its economies from the current status to middle-income level’, said Her Excellency Amira El Fadil Mohammed, ‘This provides a window of opportunity to increase domestic health financing to strengthen our health systems and to find, test and treat all TB cases’ she added.
Ahead of the UN Assembly, the AU led consultations on the Common Africa Position on TB beginning September 2017 with the National TB programmes managers, civil society, development partners and the private sector before key endorsements by African Ministers of Health during the World Health Assembly in May 2018 and African Heads of State and Government in July 2018.
Africa’s key asks were built around enhanced leadership, country ownership, governance and accountability; universal and equitable access to prevention, diagnosis, treatment, care and support; increased research and development to improve access to affordable and quality assured diagnostics, medicines, commodities and technologies; strategic information and health financing in the context of competing development global priorities.
The Common Africa Position on TB which is largely reflected in the UN outcome document pushed for the declaration of TB as an emergency; mobilisation of additional domestic and international resources for TB control; universal coverage with improved diagnosis for all; increased TB case finding and treatment success rates; strengthening TB surveillance through establishing functional vital registration systems and electronic recording and reporting systems as well as strengthening TB laboratory networks and diagnosis and treatment of childhood TB.
The Africa CDC Framework for Antimicrobial Resistance, (2018-2023) which will be implemented through the Anti-Microbial Resistance Surveillance Network will deal with antimicrobial resistant organisms that are increasing globally and threatening to render existing treatments ineffective against many infectious diseases such as TB. The framework seeks improved surveillance, delayed emergency, limited transmission and mitigation of harm among infected patients.
TB is linked to Africa’s weak health systems and the need to improve health service delivery. The recently established Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, its Regional Collaborating Centres, WHO and partners are increasing collaboration to end TB. To promote accountability of the TB response on the continent the Africa Union Assembly in July 2018 endorsed the Africa Continental End TB Accountability Framework for Action and the End TB Scorecard initiative that will be produced annually. This will help strengthen the accountability landscape with the African Union that is already producing the Africa Scorecard on Domestic Financing for Health annually.
Africa has made significant strides in controlling tuberculosis (TB) over the years, and managed to halt and begin to reverse TB incidence. However with 14% of the world population, Africa accounts for 25% of existing TB cases. Sixteen of thirty designated world’s high TB burden countries are on the continent. Furthermore, there is very low treatment coverage with only 49% of estimated TB cases being identified and put on treatment. Drug resistant TB cases are being increasingly reported but only 68% of those diagnosed are accessing treatment.
In 2016, African leaders endorsed the Catalytic Framework to End AIDS, Tuberculosis and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030. Achieving Africa’s Agenda 2063 for inclusive growth and structural transformation is predicated on addressing the health of her citizens.
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