World Stop TB Day - 24 March 2007

2007-03-23 15:56 926

Message From Dr Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative in China

BEIJING, March 23 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- World Stop Tuberculosis (TB) Day is an important occasion and this year's theme - Drug-resistant TB: Treat it. Prevent it - is a vital reminder of the challenges that remain in China's fight against TB.

In China, TB ranks number one among notified infectious diseases and around 1.4 million people across China develop active TB each year.

The world must work together to stop drug-resistant TB now, if we are to prevent a rapid escalation of extensively drug resistant TB - a form of TB that is resistant to nearly all available TB drugs, that has been emerging around the world.

While China has 15 per cent of global TB cases, it has 30 per cent of the multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB cases. There are an estimated 200,000 MDR-TB cases with up to 60,000 new reported cases each year.

In recent years the Chinese Government has been aggressive in its fight against TB and important progress has been made. China has done extremely well in achieving the 2005 global TB control targets of reaching 70 per cent TB detection and maintaining high cure rates in non-drug resistant cases.

China has now pledged to halve the prevalence and mortality of TB by 2010. Meeting this target involves tackling some important challenges - including tackling MDR-TB, further improving the quality of the DOTS programme, reaching out to migrant workers and managing the intersection of TB with HIV/AIDS.

A key aspect of reducing drug resistance TB prevalence around the world is strengthening systems for early diagnosis and effective treatment

China is improving the system for detecting and treating drug-resistant TB. China has initiated a management strategy for MDR-TB and this must be quickly expanded to ensure universal access to treatment for patients with MDR-TB. Key to this is ensuring genuinely free testing and quality treatment. China is further strengthening surveillance to detect cases of drug-resistant TB and has launched a national drug resistance survey.

WHO is supporting China to fight TB through technical expertise, advising of international good practices and facilitating access to funding for high quality TB drugs.

China has shown enormous commitment in fighting TB. If China shows the same commitment to tackling the challenges of drug-resistant TB in the future, China will greatly advance the global fight against TB.

Dr Henk Bekedam

WHO Representative in China

Source: World Health Organization