On 4 December, the first meeting of the Regional Interagency Collaborative Committee on TB care and control (RICC-TB) took place in Copenhagen. The TB Europe Coalition had been pushing for the creation of this oversight mechanism for the past few years to make sure a stronger commitment be made in the fight against drug-resistant TB in the European region.

 

Rates of drug-resistant TB in the European region are among the highest in the world. The region bears 20% of the global burden and gathers 18 out of the 27 high-burden DR-TB countries worldwide. DR-TB treatment success rate are higher in the Democratic Republic of Congo (50%) than in Romania (20%), which – let’s not forget – is an European Union member state. This is unacceptable. Also, in the global discussion on TB, the European region is rarely at the centre of attention. Only last month at the World Conference on Lung Health (the Union meeting in Malaysia), I didnt come across any civil society activist from the European region! TB and global health activists from Africa were quite numerous in contrast. This definitely shows a great imbalance.

Time has come to act! RICC-TB is a unique platform that gathers WHO, the Global Fund, the European Commission, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the STOP TB Partnerhip, government experts, civil society representatives like MSF, the Red Cross and the TB Europe Coalition, the private sector, medical profession associations, patients representatives and many other regional experts.

 

On 4th December, RICC-TB appointed the TB Europe Coalition as Chair of the RICC-TB for the coming two years, which is a great success and a sign of trust in civil society’s capacity to garner commitment across the region. RICC-TB’s objective is to monitor and drive the implementation of the MAP (the WHO Europe MDR-TB Action Plan for 2011-2015). RICC-TB will meet twice a year during other international conferences. It is composed of a Steering Committee which will drive most of the activities.

 

Many challenges remain. We need to find the driving force that will unite all the participants with such different areas of expertise to find common ground for action in the fight against DR TB in the European region. Raising the profile of DR-TB on the regional and national political agendas, and the profile of the European region on the global scene should be at the forefront of RICC’s mandate.