18th Stop TB Coordinating Board Meeting opens in Hanoi

4 May 2010 - Hanoi, Viet Nam - At the opening of the 18th Meeting of the Stop TB Partnership Coordinating Board Mr Nguyen Thien Nhan, Deputy Prime Minister of Viet Nam, called the Partnership unique and praised it for bringing together a wide variety of stakeholders in the fight against TB. "This meeting is of significant importance for TB control in Viet Nam, and supports our National TB Programme's efforts," he said.

Dr Rifat Atun, Chair of the Stop TB Coordinating Board, thanked the government of Viet Nam for hosting the meeting and praised the organizers. "I congratulate the government of Viet Nam for its progress and strong commitment on TB control," he said.

In a session focusing on the situation in Viet Nam, Dr Nguyen Quoc Trieu, Viet Nam's Minister of Health, said the meeting was a timely reminder of the TB control challenges in the region, in a year of stock-taking on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Dr Marcos Espinal, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, said he believed the meeting would help Viet Nam and its neighbours build momentum in their efforts to scale up TB prevention and care. "This is a valuable opportunity for dialogue between partners around the table," he said.

The Board discussed progress and the way forward on TB/HIV and endorsed a compact agreement to be signed soon between UNAIDS and the Stop TB Partnership. As part of this discussion, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health of South Africa, announced a new campaign that will seek to mobilize 15 million South Africans - 1/3 of the country's total population - to receive HIV testing and counselling between now and June 2011. "At the same time, South Africans will be screened for TB and chronic ailments including hypertension and diabetes," he said.

The campaign is expected to reveal a higher prevalence of HIV and TB in his country, the Minister said. "Seventy-three percent of TB patients are HIV positive. We cannot treat them separately. We will treat them under one roof." Dr Motsoaledi also reiterated his government's commitment to include TB in the South African National AIDS Commissions and Councils and to formally establish a special Task Team to oversee TB-HIV co-infection.

Other discussions at the Board meeting are focussed on accelerating scale up of M/XDR-TB control, the update on the Global Plan to Stop TB, progress in TB diagnosis, the Global Fund, TBREACH, strategic evolution of the Global Drug Facility, the upcoming MDG Summit, and the private sector constituency.

The assembled dignitaries included, additionally, Professor Kyaw Myint, Minister of Health of Myanmar; Dr Meliton Arce Rodriguez; Deputy Minister of Health of Peru; Dr Saleh Banoita Tourab, Deputy Minister of Health of Djibouti; Dr Nguyen Thi Xuyen, Vice Minister of Health of Viet Nam; Dr Jean Marc Olivé WHO Representative for Viet Nam; Dr Paul de Lay, Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS; Dr Jeremiah Chakaya, Vice Chair of the Stop TB Coordinating Board; and Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of the WHO Stop TB Department.