World TB Day

UN Palais des Nations

22 March 2006

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning.

Thank you for joining us here today.

WHO/Jean-Marc Ferre

I am pleased to inform you of the principal findings of the Global Tuberculosis Control 2006 Report.

The report is based on data sent to WHO by countries throughout 2005, based on their 2004 data. This information is then compiled into the global report, for release in early 2006. There is therefore a "time lag" in the figures which this report presents. But they provide the latest, and most up-to-date picture of the situation of TB control in the world today.

The trends in progress are clear, and positive. TB control works. Even in low-income countries, programmes are operating effectively and producing results. However, funding and implementation remain fragile in some areas - notably in African countries. More than 80% of all TB patients live in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. The commitment that has brought success elsewhere needs to be replicated in every country that still has high levels of TB, using the newly launched strategies.

Three of the world's six regions are expected to reach the 2005 targets set by the World Health Assembly for tuberculosis control. Those targets were: to detect 70% of TB cases and to successfully treat 85% of those cases, by the end of 2005. The regions that will have achieved this are the Americas, South- East Asia, and the Western Pacific. This is essential progress towards the goals set for 2015.

There are some notable successes: 26 countries have already met the targets a year ahead of time. Two of these are countries with high numbers of TB cases - which we call "high burden countries". These two countries are the Philippines and Viet Nam. Five more high-burden countries are well on track to reach the targets. These countries are Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia and Myanmar. Because of the timelag I referred to - this may only be officially confirmed at the end of 2006.

However, the figures released in this report still make grim reading. 1.7 million people died from TB in 2004. At 82%, treatment success is not far off the 85% target. But Eastern Europe, with its high prevalence of multi-drug resistant TB is having an adverse effect on global treatment success rates. There were 8.9 million new cases of TB, and that number continues to climb, albeit minimally, mostly as a result of the TB crisis in Africa.

In 2005, Ministers of Health in Africa jointly declared TB to be a "emergency" and agreed to make its control a priority. Response to this Declaration is still too slow, although some countries, such as Kenya, are taking the necessary "urgent and extraordinary actions" outlined in the declaration, by producing a national emergency plan.

March 24 is World TB Day. New initiatives are being launched in Geneva and elsewhere to improve access to TB treatments for all, and to stimulate further progress towards the targets.

The pathway has been clearly mapped out. All countries know what they have to do. The newly launched Stop TB Strategy now needs to be taken on board and implemented by all high-burden countries. The Global Plan to Stop TB which operationalizes this strategy needs to be financed in full by governments and their partners.

This will take a considerable increase in funding. In many countries this is already happening. National budgets for TB control have risen to nearly $1bn in 2006, about twice the level in 2002, reflecting the substantial scale-up of TB control activities in the effort to reach targets. However a funding gap remains, and we will be working intensively with partners to bridge that gap, stimulate implementation of the WHO Strategy, and get TB under control in the world.