Leave no one behind: Stop TB Partnership launches seven key population briefs

16 May 2016 - Geneva, Switzerland - The Stop TB Partnership today launched a series of briefs on TB key populations recognizing that reaching everyone with services, diagnostics, treatment and care is essential to ending the TB epidemic.

The Global Plan to End TB 2016-2020 focuses on the needs of key populations recognizing that the world has a collective responsibility to protect vulnerable people from TB, to provide them with a cure and to involve them as key stakeholders in the fight against the disease. The Global Plan defines ‘key populations’ as people who are vulnerable, undeserved or at-risk of TB infection and illness.

In November 2015, the Stop TB Partnership convened the first ever global meeting of people affected by TB and key populations in Bangkok. Civil society, donors, technical agencies, key populations and others came together to make recommendations on what needs to be done in order to ensure that the needs of these groups were addressed. Since then, several experts and representatives of vulnerable groups worked and developed this compendium of micro briefs which gives practical guidance on how to address the needs and views of those most vulnerable to TB, who usually have very limited access to diagnosis, treatment and care.

"Usually, the global health community thinks about vulnerable groups only in the context of HIV/AIDS. We want to make it clear that there are vulnerable groups irrespective of disease as usually vulnerability comes from lack of access, discrimination, stigma and human rights abuses, and these groups must be at the forefront of any intervention for them" said Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership.

"The Global Fund strongly supports the Stop TB Partnership's important initiative to focus attention on key populations that face a range of barriers to access TB care that saves lives. To maximize the impact of every Global Fund grant, we need to reach beyond barriers and we need to leave no one behind," said Dr Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB & Malaria.

These briefs, which are not an exhaustive list, are the beginning of a process to support countries to identify their own specific key populations and develop interventions to meet their needs. The Global Plan recommends a separate operational target of reaching at least 90% of the key populations through improved access to services, systematic screening, active new case-finding methods - and providing all people in need with effective and affordable diagnostics, treatment and care. Programmes in countries are encouraged to identify key populations at the national and sub-national level according to estimates of the risks faced, population size, particular barriers to assessing TB case, gender-related challenges, and are also encouraged to report on progress in TB with data that are dis-aggregated by key population.

"In the context of fighting with an epidemic like TB, it is not an exaggeration to describe some populations as "key": if we want to end TB, our efforts must first of all be focused on those disproportionately affected by the disease. The briefs give a closer look at each of the key populations and offer tailored guidelines on how to work with each of the populations. I hope that the briefs will inform joint efforts of all stakeholders - national governments and TB programmes, donors, technical partners, civil society and affected communities. It is time for a paradigm shift -- the Global Plan to End TB and the briefs on TB key populations are telling us how to make it a reality," said Timur Abdullaev, Community Representative, Stop TB Partnership Coordinating Board.