WHO Warns Of Tuberculosis Danger In European Region

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Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis constitutes a major threat: WHO estimates that there were 445 000 new cases and 66 000 deaths caused by tuberculosis in the WHO European Region in 2005 alone.

Experts from 32 Member States in the Region meet in The Hague to discuss the content of a regional Declaration being drawn up on tuberculosis. The meeting is being hosted by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport in collaboration with the KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation.

A final draft of the Declaration will be presented to all European Member States for endorsement at the WHO European Ministerial Forum "All Against Tuberculosis", to be held in Berlin on 22 October 2007.

The European Region faces an increased danger from the spread of the disease. In eastern Europe and within the Commonwealth of Independent States, the number of cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is the highest in the world. Some 7% of all treatments in the Region fail to cure patients. In this context, Dr Risards Zaleskis, WHO Regional Adviser for Tuberculosis Control, warns of a spread of multi-resistant strains: "In eastern Europe, multi-resistant strains spread continuously. If we do not address this problem locally, it is very likely that western Europe could also be more heavily affected in the future."

A group of relevant stakeholders, including the WHO Regional Office for Europe, WHO headquarters, the European Commission, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the global Stop TB Partnership, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation and the European Respiratory Society, together with some Member States, has worked on the content of the Declaration. Other stakeholders, such as partners, donors, communities and civil society organizations, will be consulted between July and September 2007 so that their input can contribute to the final version of the Declaration.

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About the WHO European Ministerial Forum "All Against Tuberculosis"

Tuberculosis was declared an emergency in the WHO European Region in 2005. Urgent action is still required in order to progress as rapidly as possible towards halving the prevalence and mortality rates by 2015, in line with the Millennium Development Goals.

To ensure that tuberculosis is granted high priority on health agendas, and to boost financial commitments to improving its control, the WHO Regional Office for Europe is organizing the Ministerial Forum "All Against Tuberculosis" in Berlin on 22 October 2007, hosted by the Government of Germany. The Forum will seek to:

" strengthen political commitment to implementing the WHO Stop TB Strategy throughout the Region and to including tuberculosis control within the strengthening of health systems;

" obtain commitment from all Member States to ensure full and appropriate financing of tuberculosis control, in line with World Health Assembly resolution WHA 58.14 on sustainable financing for tuberculosis prevention and control;

" adopt a European Regional Declaration on Tuberculosis; and

" endorse the Stop TB Partnership for Europe.

Over 445 000 new cases and 66 000 deaths caused by tuberculosis were reported in the WHO European Region in 2005 alone. The rates of MDR-TB in the countries of central and eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States are estimated to be among the highest in the world. The Region also reports the highest rate of treatment failure (7%).

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