16 December 2014 - Geneva, Switzerland - Latvia holding the Presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2015 will host the first European ministerial conference on tuberculosis and drug resistance on the 31st of March in Riga.
Working together, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, WHO's European Region, ECDC, the EC, TB Europe Coalition, Global Health Advocates and the Stop TB Partnership have advocated for a dialogue to raise TB and particularly drug-resistant TB higher on the European political agenda.
The WHO European Region has the highest rate of drug resistant TB with 15 out of 27 high multidrug resistant TB countries of the world of which four are in the European Region. Closely related to the TB pandemic are persistently high rates of HIV infections in large parts of Europe. Europe stands at a crossroads in the global response to TB and HIV. It has a unique opportunity to bring its TB epidemic under control and to dramatically reduce new HIV infections. Ending TB as a public health problem would represent one of the greatest health successes in the history of Europe. As with TB, a concerted campaign to prevent new HIV infections among vulnerable populations could significantly reduce prevalence and lead to a decrease in the associated costs.
"Latvia has demonstrated impressive commitment in responding to drug-resistant TB within its own borders and is a great example for us in the TB community," said Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership. "With a well-established TB and MDR-TB control programme, it is often used as an example of best practices for other countries. This first ministerial conference will provide an opportunity for Latvia to use the platform of its EU Presidency to lead Europe into a new era in the response to TB and HIV, and ensure that governments understand and act on their own domestic investments on TB interventions."