Tuberculosis (TB)

Scaling up the use of digital technologies to support End TB Strategy implementation

The latest guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) on TB treatment, emphasise the importance of digital technologies in supporting the implementation of the End TB Strategy. The guidelines contain the first-ever WHO evidence-based recommendations on the use of phones, video or electronic medication monitors to help patients adhere to TB medication and deliver TB care.

Recognizing the future scope and opportunities offered by digital technologies, the WHO Global TB Programme and the European Respiratory Society (ERS) have been working together since 2015, to raise the profile of digital technologies (eHealth and mHealth) as a means to support national programmes worldwide to advance response to TB and reach the targets set in the End TB Strategy.

A joint WHO/ERS consultation held in Geneva on 7-8 February 2017 - focused on the theme “Digital health for the End TB strategy: progress since 2015 and future perspectives” - concluded that as the evidence and experience on the use of digital health for TB increases, further investment and bold action is needed for improved TB care and prevention. The newly released report of the consultation described the discussions held during the consultation on the state of the evidence for the effectiveness and efficiency of common digital health approaches to improve TB treatment adherence, the implementation of priority technologies in TB prevention and care, and novel approaches and constructs that can influence TB efforts in future. The consultation brought together 60 experts from a broad cross-section of technical expertise in TB and other disease programmes, digital health, evidence review, laboratory science, and programme management, as well as funding agencies and end-users.

“Digital technologies can catapult the TB response to the next level”, said Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of the WHO Global TB Programme. “We look forward to the WHO Global Ministerial Conference on ending TB being held in Moscow in November 2017 and the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on TB in 2018 which will be critical to generate the top-level political commitment needed to back bold initiatives of programme managers, technical agencies and donors to invest in innovative digital technologies to help combat TB.”

Professor Guy Joos, President of the ERS stated that “the European Respiratory Society is proud to be among the leading professional bodies in respiratory health to support WHO and countries to implement novel technologies and to improve the quality of research to the benefit of our patients”.