23.03.2005 General News

UN Secretary General pledges support for TB eradication

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Accra, March 23, GNA - The massive efforts to administer the World Health Organisation's (WHO) recommended "DOTS" strategy for the control of Tuberculosis (TB) has been beneficial in treating 17 million infected people in nine years.

Mr Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, said in a press statement issued in Accra by the United Nations Information Centre on the eve of World TB Day that despite the achievement, it was necessary for stakeholders to work harder to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, which aimed at reversing the spread of TB by 2015.

Tuberculosis is one of the world's major diseases and is responsible for 5,000 deaths every day, but Mr Annan says with the scale-up of the DOTS strategy "our prospects for reaching the goal have improved greatly".

The Secretary General said the WHO had reported that eight out of 10 patients were successfully treated under DOTS programmes as a result of which 45 per cent infectious patients were treated in 2003 up from 28 per cent in 2000.

"But huge obstacles remain, particularly in Africa, in the form of weak health systems, a depleted health workforce, and an HIV/AIDS epidemic that is driving TB," Mr Annan said.

He made reference to Former South African President Nelson Mandela's description of TB, which he said was too often a death sentence for people with AIDS and urged African leaders to make the fight against TB and AIDS a priority.

Mr Annan said the 'Stop TB Partnership' programme, which had 350 partner governments and organisations is forging consensus on strategies, coordinated responses, mechanisms for quality drug supply and action for new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines. Governments, bilateral agencies, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and the World Bank were providing resources fore the programme.

But Mr Annan said: "still, to achieve worldwide impact, more is needed and we must provide greater support for the increasingly wide range of caregivers who help find people ill with TB and assist them with treatment."

The Secretary General said such broad mobilisation was the strongest weapon in the fight against the disease and urged the world community to rededicate itself to the mission.

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