Fifty-fifth session of the WHO Regional Committee
13-17 September 2004, Shanghai, China
"Countries must accelerate their efforts now if the Western Pacific Region* is to reach the target of a 70% case detection rate by the end of 2005. This is a very important milestone. It is the first step towards the 2010 objective of reducing the burden of tuberculosis in the Western Pacific Region by half," Dr Shigeru Omi, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, said today.
WHO is concerned that some countries in the Region with a high burden of TB** may not reach the 2005 target for TB case detection.
Dr Omi made his call to action during his report to the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, the WHO governing body in the Western Pacific, on the state of tuberculosis control in the Region.
The Regional Committee, composed of representatives from Member States, is meeting in Shanghai, China from 13 to 17 September to review WHO's work in the Region.
WHO aims to reduce the burden of TB by 50% in the Western Pacific Region by 2010 from 1999 levels. In order to do this it is essential that three targets set for 2005 are achieved. The Region has already achieved a treatment success rate of over 85%, but coverage of DOTS (WHO's recommended strategy) is at 77%, still below the target of 100%. Case detection is well short of the regional 70% target.
One of the seven countries in the Region with a high burden of TB -Viet Nam - have already reached or exceeded the three targets. Cambodia, Mongolia and the Philippines have made good progress and are close to achieving the 2005 targets. However, China, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Papua New Guinea still have significant work to do if they are to meet the targets by the end of next year.
Funding for TB control has increased dramatically in recent years, with greater attention and resources being allocated to controlling this curable disease by governments and partners in the Region.
To address this, WHO will work with countries, particularly those with a high burden of TB, to improve the quality of laboratory services, strengthen public-private cooperation, enhance surveillance systems, and increase community awareness of TB in order to extend DOTS coverage.
Dr Omi noted that many countries have yet to set up surveillance systems to monitor TB-HIV co-infection effectively. "Earlier this year, WHO published a regional framework for TB-HIV which will guide countries to strengthen national TB-HIV surveillance activities as well as ensure that people living with HIV are screened for TB, and vice versa, and treated properly," said Dr Omi.
He called on countries concerned to ensure that the poor do not face barriers to TB diagnosis and treatment services, noting that TB and poverty are closely related.
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*The 37 countries and areas comprising the WHO Western Pacific Region are: American Samoa, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Kiribati, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Macao (China), Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Pitcairn Islands, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, and Wallis and Futuna
** The seven countries with a high burden of TB in the region are Cambodia, China, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Viet Nam.