Global Plan to Stop TB 2016-2020 Regional Consultation in Europe: Why we need to change now if we want to End TB

24 July 2015 - Istanbul, Turkey - The third regional consultation on the Global Plan to Stop TB 2016-2020 ended this week as participants gathered at the Global Plan to Stop TB & Eastern Europe and Central Asia Consultation on Sustainable Impact in Istanbul. The need for a change in policy and health systems in the Region in order to End TB was central to the main discussions during the two-day meeting.

The meeting was opened by Professor Dr Eyup Gumus, Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Turkey and was attended by Dr Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria, Dr Masoud Dara, Senior Advisor, WHO Office at European Union, Dr Paula Fujiwara, Scientific Director for The Union and Chair of the Taskforce for the Global Plan, in addition to Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership.

The first day was devoted to discussions and debates on the Global Plan to Stop TB 2016-2020 and the second day was dedicated to discussions on Global Fund investments, transition, sustainability and scale-up of TB and HIV interventions in the region.

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.

As outlined by colleagues from WHO EURO, the European region has special challenges to face: high MDR and XDR-TB rates, lengthy hospital stays, and the need for changes in health, human rights policies including decriminalization, real civil society and community engagement. The participants suggested the need for rapid change in the way business is done in TB - giving the right voice and engagement of communities and civil society, including key populations, integration of TB/HIV interventions, boosting the human rights component and the need for a multidisciplinary approach in paving the way forward as well as putting the patients at the center of all interventions.

The group work-centred sessions focussed on several key issues. On MDR-TB, participants identified the importance of early diagnosis and universal access to DST, the importance of using present tools better, the need for new drugs and regimens as well as the crucial need for a change in policy and implementation. The need for proper human resources plans and actions was also outlined.

On health systems and financing, discussions centred around the importance of domestic funding, the need for programmes and activities to be backed by financial allocations, working with and involving other Ministries, more consideration given towards what could be decentralized care, as well as flexibility from the Global Fund for the eligibility of countries.

On Key Populations, the specific groups that need greater attention were identified and the role of NGOs as well as government agencies in reaching these groups were highlighted. Recommendations were made to collect disaggregated information on the priority groups to measure progress.

On innovation and research, much more needs to be done to improve both tools and systems in order to fast track the path from diagnosis to cure. Civil society have a key role to play here in demanding the creation, awareness, and facilitating the access and delivery of services. Health systems reform and innovative use of ICT systems were highlighted. The group also touched on addressing infection control, social science research and preventive treatment research among others. The rich discussion in Istanbul concluded with topline comments around costing of the Global Plan, creating a real investment framework and making the case for priority investments.

This third regional consultation follows the discussions and endorsement that was given at the inaugural regional consultation held in May in Addis Ababa, and then in Bangkok in June.

The fourth and last regional consultation will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 2 September.

The online public consultation of the Global Plan to Stop TB 2016-2020 is now open to everyone to share information, ideas and experiences, and, will run through 10 August 2015. Participants are very much encouraged to provide comments -- based on the top line questions asked -- on the introduction and the seven main chapters that make up the Global Plan.

The Global Plan will launch at the end of the year in Cape Town, South Africa at the 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health.