19 May 2022 I Geneva, Switzerland -- The Stop TB Partnership, launched today a report providing current status and strategic recommendations to establish real-time TB data reporting systems in 19 countries. The report is part of the Global Fund Strategic Initiative for Data System Initiative (Data SI). The goal of the initiative is to enable countries to rapidly adapt and scale-up real-time case-based surveillance systems for tuberculosis (TB).
The release of the Global Digital TB Surveillance Assessment report gives a rapid assessment of the TB surveillance systems with a special focus on real-time TB reporting in 19 countries. Progress made in the global fight against TB has suffered disastrous setbacks over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic making the need for real-time data to identify critical needs more urgent than ever, in order to get efforts back on track.
“The COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrated that with strong will and determination we can conquer any virus or bacterial virus. We saw funding made available to take rapid action. Since March 2020, we have had unprecedented access to data about the COVID-19 pandemic i.e., how many people were tested, diagnosed, cured, disaggregated by age, gender, small administrative units and so forth. We need the same for TB,” said Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership. “This report gives us a lot of hope as it shows that a number of countries have started to collect and report TB data on a monthly and some even on a daily basis. So, it is possible, but we have a long way to go as we need this to go at scale. It is 2022 and rapid action based on reliable and timely information is long overdue.”
Tuberculosis remains one of the world’s leading infectious disease killers. Establishing strong, responsive TB surveillance systems that are digital, case-based and real-time is critical in the global fight against TB. The COVID-19 pandemic showed how important it is to have real-time data at local, national and international levels to mount the necessary actions for prevention and care. Most high TB burden countries currently have digital, case-based surveillance systems but at various levels of implementation. Many countries face challenges related to software, hardware, coverage, human resources, and training, data regulations, data hosting and ownership as well as political and administrative will to act.
“Real-time digital case-based surveillance systems play a key role in the proper management of TB patients across the continuum of care. They also ensure the timely availability of patient-centric data that supports the monitoring of notification results and treatment outcomes and facilitates prompt decision making. The Global Fund recognizes this importance and together with other donors, technical partners and stakeholders has continuously supported Ministries of Health and national disease programs to build and strengthen in-country digital surveillance systems. Through the Global Fund Strategic Initiative on Data and in synergy with the TB Strategic Initiative, the Stop TB Partnership has assessed the TB surveillance systems in 19 of the 20 Global Fund high priority TB countries with a special focus on the real-time digital TB surveillance systems. Understanding the TB digital case-based surveillance systems and challenges in these 19 countries is critical as they account for 82% of the TB burden and about 66% of the TB funding in Global Fund-supported countries in the 2020-2022 cycle,” said Marijke Wijnroks, Chief of Staff, The Global Fund.
Starting in 2020, WHO publish monthly TB notifications from countries apart from publishing annual Global TB reports with detailed TB surveillance data. WHO provides technical support to countries for digital TB surveillance.
The Global Fund Data SI facilitates countries to rapidly adapt and scale up their TB surveillance. Stop TB Partnership, as an implementing partner for the Strategic Initiative, has initiated this project to conduct a rapid assessment of the real-time digital, case-based surveillance systems in TB SI priority countries. The assessment provided country-specific recommendations.
The assessment was done virtually, primarily through a series of interviews with stakeholders in the 19 high TB burden SI priority countries, including NTPs and partners supporting TB surveillance.