Experts from South-East Asia aim for more ambitious and inclusive response to drug-resistant TB

30 April 2013 - Thimpu, Bhutan - The third South-East Asia Regional Green Light Committee (GLC) meeting ended on an ambitious note, with representatives from national tuberculosis (TB) programmes, the World Health Organization (WHO), technical agencies and civil society all showing their support for a vision of zero TB deaths, infections and suffering.

GLC South-East Asia, formed in 2012, is one of several regional committees set up as part of a new GLC framework. Hosted by the WHO Regional Office, the committee provides advice on tackling multidrug resistant TB (MDR-TB) to countries in the WHO South-East Asia region, donors and other partners. Their responsibilities include reviewing regional strategies to address MDR-TB and overseeing the provision of technical assistance and monitoring missions.

The meeting in Bhutan focused on improving the quality of technical support provided to countries, including the way in which monitoring missions are conducted. The experts gathered agreed to revise the format of these missions in order to better measure and support advocacy and community engagement.

"I am very happy with the outcomes of the meeting. Despite the technical nature of the deliberations, all the committee members were focused on what will ultimately be best for people affected by TB," said Blessi Kumar, Vice-Chair of the Stop TB Partnership Coordinating Board and member of the South East Asia Regional GLC.

"The only way to beat TB is to join hands - all of us, the clinicians, epidemiologists, National TB Programmes, ministers, affected communities, civil society and many other partners," Kumar said. "There needs to be an understanding that the response to what has to date been a highly medical and technical issue lies in bringing diverse partners together and not in alienating them. Keeping the patient at the centre of all we plan and do and providing quality technical support to countries is what will yield the desired results."