New York, 26 September 2018. The challenge of Tuberculosis (TB) is faced worldwide, including across all of Europe and Central Asia. 1.6 million people died of the disease in 2017, and Heads of State are meeting today to discuss the matter at the UN General Assembly. TB kills more people each year than HIV and malaria combined. As one of the top ten leading causes of death TB deserves the highest political attention.

“I call on leaders of the world to commit to ending TB in their countries by allocating the necessary resources in their health budget, and involve us, civil society and communities in helping to reach the unacceptable 36% of people with TB who are still missed by health systems every year” says Yuliya Chorna, Executive Director of the TB Europe Coalition (TBEC).

Traditionally, people in many countries of the European region have been treated in hospitals for long periods from six months to two years. Patients have to suffer not only the burden and toxicity of a long term treatment with heavy antibiotics, but also being apart from their families, jobs and social lives.

“TB patients are no longer infectious by at most 2 weeks after they start and receive effective treatment. It’s ridiculous that many programmes still isolate people from society for many months. No wonder people are afraid to seek a diagnosis. TB care has to be designed for and with people.” says Ksenia Shchenina, a former TB patient from Russia and Board Member of TBEC.

While European Heads of States are noticeable by their absence at the meeting, the WHO Europe region continues to be a hotspot for the spread of the multi-drug resistant (MDR) form of TB. Conservatism in the way TB is being treated in Europe and the lack of involvement of civil society and communities in TB care, who play a vital role for treatment adherence, has led to terrible figures in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Too many countries report rates of around 30% of new cases being multi-drug resistant. Furthermore, worldwide only 25% of people with drug resistant TB are on treatment.

Yet we still don’t have the right tools to fight TB. Our leaders have not allocated the right amount of funds to develop new vaccines, diagnostics and treatment. We continue to have an astonishing annual $1.3 billion gap in Research & Development for TB. “While the European Union congratulates itself on allocating on average less than €30 million per year to TB research initiatives in the last four years, it should think of reorienting its priority setting in health research to a needs-driven approach. Our taxpayers’ money should go to funding priorities neglected by the private sector” says Fanny Voitzwinkler, Chair of the TBEC Board.

The UN High-Level Meeting on TB held on 26 September 2018 is a time for action and unity. We need changes, if we want to stop the millions of preventable deaths caused by TB. Civil society can contribute greatly to effective people-centred care, it wants to be involved and will be watching to make sure the commitments made by world leaders at the HLM will be put into practice.


Note to the editor:

Contact info:

Yuliya Chorna – chorna@tbcoalition.eu +38.098.333.90.33

Fanny Voitzwinkler – fvoitzwinkler@ghadvocates.org +32.485.35.23.85

Ksenia Shchenina – Shchenina@gmail.com +

www.tbcoalition.eu, @TBECoalition

The TB Europe Coalition is a regional advocacy network of civil society advocates and activists across the WHO Europe region. We believe that civil society should be much more involved by governments and the health systems in driving the response to the TB epidemics.

The WHO Global TB Report 2018i shows that 36 percent of people with TB are missed by health systems. For the fourth year in a row, TB remains the world’s single largest infectious killer, with 1.6 million deaths in 2017.ii TB kills more people each year than HIV and malaria combined. In 2017, 940,000 people died of AIDS-related causes,iii which included 300,000 TB deaths among HIV-positive people, and malaria killed 445,000 people.iv

Estimates suggest there were around 323 000 new TB cases and 32 000 deaths in the WHO Europe region in 2015, mostly from eastern and central European countries: 18 high-priority countries for TB response bear 85% of the TB burden and 99% of the multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) burden.v WHO Europe region includes nine of the top 30 countries with the highest burden of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) in the world. MDR-TB is one of the key drivers of the TB epidemic in Europe, along with HIV, social determinants and TB risk factors, and limited capacity of health systems.vi

  1. WHO, Global TB report 2018, http://www.who.int/tb/publications/global_report/en/
  2. Ibid.
  3. UNAIDS, Global HIV & AIDS statistics — 2018 fact sheet, http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/fact-sheet
  4. WHO, Global response to malaria at crossroads, 2017, http://www.who.int/en/news-room/detail/29-11-2017-global-response-to-malaria-at-crossroads
  5. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan
  6. WHO, Basic facts on tuberculosis (TB) in the WHO European Region, http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/communicable-diseases/tuberculosis/data-and-statistics


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