04 September 2015 - Buenos Aires, Argentina - The fourth and final regional consultation on the Global Plan to Stop TB 2016-2020 ended this week as over 40 participants came together representing the diverse partners and stakeholders from the Latin America and Caribbean region.
The consultation took note of the key elements of the Global Plan draft which focuses on the paradigm shift that is required to end the TB epidemic in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the WHO End TB Strategy, as well as the high level 90-(90)-90 targets articulated in the Global Plan and the differentiated approach required to make rapid progress. The current Global Plan represents the investment case and the advocacy tool of the first five years of the WHO End TB Strategy that goes up to 2035
The meeting made deep dives into some topics of relevance for the region. These include social protection initiatives, more focussed initiatives on addressing the needs of key population groups, innovations and a differentiated approach in care delivery including for cities and for sub-national populations that are planning fast track elimination of TB.
On social protection, the need to highlight the importance of social protection for the region was discussed, as well as having the Global Plan call for stronger evidence to be collected and ongoing initiatives documented. This is especially important to equip decision makers and parliamentarians with the evidence to change policy and allocate resources for social protection. Countries also need to implement a more systematic approach for social protection measures following a process of development of policies and strategy and their systematic implementation. There are a few TB programmes with experiences but there are many other health programmes with more experience that TB programmes should learn from. To prevent interruptions in social protection measures due to government change or a shift in political priorities, some countries have enacted comprehensive 'TB laws' that have been useful in providing a legal and rights-based approach for sustained social protection measures.
When discussing innovation and research in relation to the Global Plan’s focus on the paradigm shift, the group suggested greater use of information technology systems and tools including mHealth, eHealth and biometrics. The role of social media, social audit and systematic implementation of social observatories for the purpose of improving patient care and faster collection of actionable programmatic data was also highlighted. There is a need to document new and innovative initiatives in order to impact policy for scale up and improve coordination and networking with universities that undertake research on TB so that the results are used by country programmes.
On key populations, discussions centred around going beyond identification and highlighting how to reach these groups. The need to provide more guidance and a framework on how to prioritize key populations at country level for focussed action was highlighted, along with the need for implementing culturally sensitive special approaches of care delivery to groups such as undocumented migrants. From a conceptual perspective, the group also suggested that the Global Plan should promote that the TB response should be shaped as looking through the lens of human rights and gender.
Concluding the session with a discussion on resource needs, it was suggested that the Global Plan should recommend for better data on finances from countries, including improved systems for tracking and reporting of domestic funding. It should also encourage individual countries to use a similar approach for quantification of the ‘return on investments’ for their resource mobilization efforts at a country level and address the importance of efficient allocation of limited resources at a country level to maximize impact.
This last regional consultation follows the discussions and endorsement that was given at the inaugural regional consultation held in May in Addis Ababa, followed by Bangkok in June and the third which was held in Turkey in July.
The Global Plan will launch in November which will be followed by a public call for its endorsement and commitment by countries at the end of the year in Cape Town, South Africa at the 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health.