The WHO European Region consists of 53 countries, including all countries of the European Union as well as former USSR states such as Armenia, Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova and Israel.

Burden of TB in the WHO European Region:

In the European region alone, TB causes 41 new cases and kills 4 people every hour. In 2012, there were an estimated 360,000 new TB cases, including 40,000 people who died from the disease.

The collapse of the Soviet Union led to the disintegration of healthcare services in many of the countries in the European region, which disrupted TB control. Although the European region comprises a relatively small percentage of total TB cases in the world (less than 5 percent of the global estimated number of cases in 2011 occurred in the European region) and has a lower incidence, prevalence and mortality from TB than Africa or Asia, the European region accounts for nearly a quarter of the burden of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) in the world.

The economic burden that TB causes in the region is also significant. TB treatment in the ‘new’ EU Member states costs €2,600 for a standard case of TB compared to €24,000 for MDR-TB. In the wealthier EU Member states it costs €7,800 to cure a standard case of TB and €55,000 for MDR-TB. It is conservatively estimated that the economic cost of TB in the EU amounts to €5.9 billion per year. 

What commitments has Europe made in response to TB? 

  • In 2007, health ministers from across Europe adopted the Berlin Declaration on Tuberculosis. Member countries committed themselves to provide political will and resources to combat TB. Governments also committed to greater community engagement, which is integral to any response to TB. However, since 2007 insufficient progress has been made, and member countries have yet to develop a framework to implement and monitor the commitments they agreed to.
  • The Plan to Stop TB in 18 High Priority Countries in the WHO European Region 2007–2015 (2007) describes the main challenges, strategies and interventions to control TB in the 18 high priority countries in the European Region: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The Plan is intended to be a guide for the high priority countries to use in developing their own long and short term national plans on TB and as a reference for the WHO Regional Office for Europe and all other partners involved in fighting TB.
  • The EU predominantly funds TB research through its Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development. The EU has the responsibility to ensure that the next Framework Programme, Horizon 2020, provides sufficient budget for research and development for neglected and poverty related diseases, including MDR-TB and paediatric TB.
  • The EU’s Programme for Action to Confront HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis aims to address globally the existing funding shortfall in order to meet MDG 6. However, progress has been limited. There has been a lack of large scale collective action at both national and international levels. This programme should continue after 2012 with better operational indicators and an integrated response to scale up impact. Strong EU intervention is essential to make inroads in the fight against TB.
  • The ECDC Framework Action Plan to Fight TB in the European Region (2008) aims to evaluate the current situation in the Region and to develop a unified EU approach to the fight against TB and MDR-TB. It is based on four core principles, one of which includes building partnership and international collaboration. A detailed roadmap of activities to be put forward at the community level is yet to be completed.
  • In September 2011, the WHO released its Consolidated Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Multidrug and Extensively Drug- Resistant Tuberculosis (M/XDR-TB) in the WHO European Region 2011–2015. This Action Plan provides a unique opportunity for European nations to strengthen and intensify efforts to address the alarming problem of drug-resistant TB in the region. Governments must urgently develop and implement national DR-TB plans and ensure that implementation is centred around a community and human rights-based approach for treatment and support.