The "Zero TB Initiative" sparks new action to end TB

25 July 2016 - Dubai, UAE - The End TB Strategy and the Global Plan to End TB 2016-2020 call for a fundamental change to the ways TB prevention and care programs are funded and implemented to achieve a significant reduction in the number of people developing TB each year. Most countries are not achieving the declines needed to end the TB epidemic and in several countries, prevalence survey data show the TB burden is much higher than previously thought.

In order to accelerate the response to the TB epidemic, the Stop TB Partnership, the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Advance Access & Delivery (AA&D), and Interactive Research and Development (IRD) have come together to launch the Zero TB Initiative to support cities, districts, and islands that are committed to achieving a rapid reduction in the number of people suffering from TB.

The purpose of the initiative is to create ‘islands of elimination’ that will contribute to lowering rates of TB and answer important operational and delivery questions that can support national scale up of a comprehensive strategy. The Zero TB Initiative is unique in three ways:

The founding partners are committed to provide support to the cities, districts, and islands as part of the initiative through advocacy, resource mobilization, technical support and monitoring and evaluation.

"For a long time, we have ignored tried and tested epidemic control strategies because of a preoccupation with cost. We must ensure that people receive the care that they need regardless of where they live," said Dr Salmaan Keshavjee, Director, Harvard Medical School Center for Global Health Delivery in Dubai.

The cities of Chennai and Karachi are the first to start activities as part of the Zero TB Initiative. In Chennai, the project is led by the Municipal Corporation of Chennai and has received financial commitments from multiple local and international donors. In Karachi the project is supported by The Global Fund. Similarly, Lima has now launched a project led by municipal governments. These resources support local governments, businesses, and civil society and community organizations as they deliver world-class TB care.

"Cities must make use of comprehensive epidemic control measures to end TB. This is what places like New York used to stop its TB epidemic. We need to do systematic screening using mobile X-rays, rapid molecular testing for everyone, new drugs to treat drug-resistant TB, screening and referral of childhood TB for expert management, household and workplace contact tracing, treatment of TB infection, airborne infection control in large hospitals, screening of patients visiting hospitals and private clinics- everything we need to do to end TB" said Dr. Aamir Khan, Executive Director of IRD.

Other coalitions are forming in Kisumu, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, and Voronezh. "Cities like these already possess incredible resources and ingenuity on their own, but collectively they could change the conversation on TB through this effort, and move the world rapidly toward elimination," said Tom Nicholson of AA&D.

"The Zero TB Initiative brings us one step closer to the dream of ending TB. This is a paradigm shift and it means people with TB in these cities and islands will have access to the high standard of TB care that has been available for decades in Western Europe and North America," said Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership.