Landmark meeting on post-2015 TB targets held in Geneva

14 February 2013 - Geneva - The participants in a workshop convened last week by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Stop TB Partnership have proposed a set of goals and targets to guide the global fight against TB after 2015.

Thirty-one experts who included representatives from TB high burden countries, development and technical agencies and research and development entities; advocates from civil society; epidemiologists; and experts on modeling participated in the meeting.

The group shared, above all, the aspirational goal of zero TB deaths, zero TB disease and zero suffering. There was broad agreement on a set of interim targets for 2025 designed to accelerate progress towards this goal. The first is to reduce TB deaths by 75% by 2025 compared with 2015, which would mean a decrease from a projected 1.2 million TB deaths in 2015 to 300 000 in 2025. The second, closely related, interim target is to reduce the TB incidence rate (the number of people who develop TB each year, per 100 000 population) by 40% by 2025 compared with 2015.

The meeting participants also discussed a third 2025 target linked to universal health coverage, which may feature prominently in the broader post-2015 development agenda. There was consensus on a target of zero catastrophic expenditures for families affected by TB by 2025.

Achieving the proposed interim targets will require a dramatic scale up of TB diagnosis and treatment, especially in vulnerable and poor populations; further advances on universal health coverage and economic development and poverty reduction; substantial investment in research and development to accelerate the availability of new TB tools; and widespread uptake of these new tools as they become available.

Participants also agreed that bolder targets should be set for 2030 and 2040. Achieving these targets would require huge investments to be made now to develop new tools such as a point-of-care diagnostic, shorter and more effective treatment regimens and a potent vaccine.

The workshop was one in a series of consultations on the development of a post-2015 global TB strategy and targets with WHO Member States and partners that started in June 2012 and will continue through 2013. The World Health Assembly is set to discuss the new TB elimination strategy and targets in 2014. These will be at the core of the next global plan to eliminate TB by the Stop TB Partnership.