PAHO/WHO Representative, Dr. Godfrey Xuereb.

PAHO/WHO Representative, Dr. Godfrey Xuereb.

Multi-sectoral, all-encompassing efforts required

MULTI-SECTORAL and all-encompassing efforts are required if health care providers across the world are going to be successful in combating tuberculosis in their respective countries.

This is according to the PAHO/WHO Representative, Dr. Godfrey Xuereb, who delivered opening remarks at the Tuberculosis Management Update Meeting recently at the Accra Beach Hotel and Spa.

He said that recently, TB has come into focus again, and there has been an increased interest in fighting this disease at all levels, especially since they have encountered a new obstacle which is the multidrug resistant TB.

“The recent history of TB control has provoked a renewed interest in tackling this old disease at international, regional and national levels. One of the major problems we are now encountering is multidrug resistant TB. This is a recent development in the war against TB, and we have to be aware of this new threat and attack it with appropriate training for our primary care physicians, our labs and all our health care providers.”

The PAHO/WHO representative said that these multi-sectoral and all-encompassing efforts must consist of commitment by those at the political helm, in such areas as providing sufficient resources for prevention and care, the engagement of various stakeholders in this fight and adhering to universal health coverage policy among other things.

“For this reason, an enabling and all-encompassing environment will be required of all countries to ensure broader national participation in TB control efforts, through increased political commitment with adequate resources for TB care and prevention, enhanced engagement of communities, civil society organisations and public and private care providers, and adopting universal health coverage policy and regulatory frameworks for case notification, vital registration, quality and rational use of medicines and infection control.”

In addition, good contact tracing and training of front line workers are essential since some of the risk factors for this disease are also some of the obstacles.

“The other challenge we have is that the risk factors for TB are also some of the main social determinants of health such as poverty and poor housing. Therefore, the fight against TB is no longer just the responsibility of the Ministry of Health, but we need a multi-sectoral approach. We need to ensure good contact tracing (and) we need to ensure good training of front line workers.”

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