A new learning network to ramp up efforts to engage with the private sector to end TB was launched at a special public-private mix (PPM) workshop held at the 50th Union Lung Health Conference.

The newly launched TB-PPM Learning Network is intended as a platform to share ideas, projects, webinars and other resources on the topic with the goal to help countries and stakeholders ramp up efforts to engage with the private sector to end TB.

“The learning network is an excellent platform for countries and other stakeholders to share experiences and learn from each other”, said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme. “We have identified PPM as one of the priorities for WHO’s work to end TB and will provide our full support to this initiative. Reaching the targets of UN high-level meeting, including the target to reach 40 million people with TB care by 2022 and on prevention, requires the full participation of everyone – the private sector included”.

Dr Madhukar Pai, Director of McGill Global Health Programs and the McGill International TB Center and Chair of the Stop TB PPM Working Group added, “We are thrilled to launch this online learning network on PPM, to help advance the agenda on private provider engagement and help countries implement the PPM Roadmap we have. A large proportion of missing patients are in the private and informal sector. Regardless of where patients seek care, they deserve quality TB care. We hope the learning network can facilitate a vibrant community of practice that can help make this a reality.”

In 2018, owing to global efforts, 7 million people who fell ill with TB were known to access quality care as notified to national TB programmes. However, a staggering 3 million still remain undiagnosed or not reported, a large portion of these ‘missing’ people are known to seek care in the private sector. Engagement with the private sector is credited to be one of the major reasons for increase in case notifications.

National TB programme managers of India and Indonesia, two of the biggest contributors to increased notifications last year, presented their experiences at the PPM workshop co-chaired by Drs Madhukar Pai, Tereza Kasaeva, and SS Lal. Following, an opening presentation on the survivor/private sector perspective from David Mungai – a TB survivor and private practitioner from Kenya, a global overview on the PPM roadmap was presented, after which came country experiences. Other than the Indian and Indonesian experience, presentations were also made on ongoing work in Nigeria and the Philippines. The audience participated in interactive and animated Question and Answer sessions after each presentation.