Stop TB Partnership Working Groups provide platforms for communication to inform and promote policies and guidelines in support of implementation of the Global Plan to Stop TB. The Working Groups are collections of individuals from organizations with interest or expertise in a particular area of interest to the Stop TB Partnership who provide inputs on critical strategic issues for TB globally. Working Groups are broadly divided into Research Working Groups and Implementation Working Groups.
One of the Stop TB Partnership’s strategic goals is to strengthen support for the Working Groups and facilitate communication and cooperation with and among them. There are seven Stop TB Partnership Working Groups.
This Working Group serves as a multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary platform organizing and coordinating the efforts of stakeholders to assist countries to build capacity for programmatic management of drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) in the public and private sector. The aim is to ensure universal access to care and appropriate treatment for all people with DR-TB. The group mobilizes resources and undertakes activities to ensure a holistic, quality-assured, patient-centered approach for all people with DR-TB within existing TB care structures, as well as through innovative new partnerships in priority countries.
The End Tuberculosis (TB) Transmission Initiative (previously the Infection Control sub-Working Group) supports the global fight against TB by focusing its efforts on preventing the transmission of TB. As a result of the frequency of TB transmission in institutional and community settings, the association of TB and HIV/AIDS, and weak health systems, calls for a global TB transmission control strategy have culminated in the End TB Transmission Initiative.
The TB/HIV Working Group, set up in 2001, aims to coordinate, monitor, advise, collect, and share information around the global response to the HIV-associated TB epidemic. The HIV pandemic presents a massive challenge to the global prevention and treatment of TB at all levels. Globally, TB is also the most common presenting illness among people living with HIV (PLHIV) both before and after receiving antiretroviral therapy. The Working Group has developed a core set of policy and programmatic guidance based on the best available evidence to reduce the impact of the TB and HIV epidemics (Interim policy on collaborative TB/HIV activities, 2004 subsequently updated to the WHO Policy on collaborative TB/HIV activities).
The Global Laboratory Initiative (GLI) is a network of international partners dedicated to accelerating and expanding access to quality-assured laboratory services in response to the diagnostic challenges of TB, notably HIV-associated and drug-resistant TB. The GLI ensures a focus on TB within the framework of a multifaceted yet integrated approach to laboratory capacity strengthening.
The Child and Adolescent TB Working Group works with the objective to promote research, policy development, the formulation and implementation of guidelines, the mobilization of human and financial resources, and collaboration with partners working in relevant fields (including maternal, child and adolescent health, the Extended Programme on Immunization, and HIV) to achieve the goal of decreased childhood TB mortality and morbidity.
The Public-Private Mix for TB care and control Working Group was established to help develop global policy on PPM and assist countries to develop and implement national policies and guidelines to engage all care providers.
The New Diagnostics Working Group (NDWG) focuses on promoting the development and adoption of new and modified diagnostic products. The group has contributed significantly to advances in the field of TB diagnostics. Promising technologies have been screened and a series of new product developments initiated, supported, subjected to field trials, and ultimately endorsed by WHO for roll-out in endemic settings.
The group is working on a scientific blueprint for the development of TB diagnostics. This publication is intended to facilitate coordination and collaboration across the diagnostic research and development landscape. It provides a framework to guide all those involved in diagnostic development through the different phases of the development value chain – from the discovery of new techniques and tools through to their delivery and implementation in highly endemic countries.
The Working Group on New Drugs (WGND) has a mandate to accelerate the development of effective and affordable new therapies for TB. It acts as a forum to facilitate global collaboration and joint projects for the development of new TB medicines. To eradicate TB in the 21st century, continued multi-year worldwide commitment, research and vigilance are important to ensure a consistent pipeline of new antimicrobials. With its diverse membership, including representatives of public and private sector, academic laboratories, and industry, as well as regulators, representatives of affected communities and those in a position to provide funding and support, the Working Group remains a unique mechanism for ensuring a consistent pipeline of medicine candidates.
The purpose of the Working Group on New TB Vaccines is to facilitate the development of new, more effective TB vaccines by promoting collaboration and coordination among multiple stakeholders. The Working Group serves as the mechanism of exchange and dialogue between the Stop TB Partnership and the research community. It also provides a forum to discuss challenges to TB vaccine development and identify solutions and to build consensus on key issues and questions related to TB vaccine research and development.
Bi-Annual Bulletin of the Working Groups
The Operational Strategy mandates the Secretariat to strengthen support to the Working Groups and facilitate collaboration among them. As part of this effort, it encourages the standardization of the way that Working Groups report, interact and communicate with the Secretariat, the Coordinating Board and Board Committees, including the use of harmonized key performance indicators. The development of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all Working Groups was completed and approved by the Executive Committee on 13 March 2015. These SOPs are currently being implemented by the Working Groups.
Working Groups are required to proactively communicate with other parts of the Stop TB Partnership. Working Groups must ensure that regular updates are provided to the Partnership Secretariat regarding their activities and upcoming events. The Partnership is responsible for supporting the entities of the Stop TB Partnership, including with oversight, strategic guidance, communications and advocacy support, and financial assistance, where appropriate and available.
One of the tools for supporting communication is the biannual Bulletin highlighting the progress of the Working Groups and informing on upcoming activities.
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Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the Stop TB Partnership Working Groups
The Stop TB Partnership underwent an extensive process to clarify its role, strategic priorities, and operating model in developing its 2013-2015 Operational Strategy. As part of this process, the Working Groups were highlighted as critical convening bodies for partners to coordinate and harmonize activities towards the achievement of the Global Plan, and to execute tasks that require collective effort.
However, the Coordinating Board, Executive Committee, Secretariat and Working Group members identified challenges that were limiting how effectively the Working Groups fulfil this role. To address these challenges, the Operational Strategy of the Stop TB Partnership 2013-2015 mandated the Secretariat to strengthen support to the Working Groups, including by standardizing the Working Groups’ reporting to, interactions and communications with the Secretariat, the Coordinating Board and Board Committees, and use of harmonized key performance indicators.