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UN health agency launches new ‘Stop TB’ strategy

UN health agency launches new ‘Stop TB’ strategy to treat 50 million people

In an effort to reduce the 1.7 million deaths caused by tuberculosis (TB) every year, a new strategy to fight the disease in its varied incarnations was launched today by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Geneva-based agency said the new initiative underpins the Global Plan to Stop TB 2006–2015, an ambitious $ 56 billion action plan launched in January, which will treat 50 million people for TB, halve the disease’s prevalence and death rates and save 14 million lives if carried out fully.

In that way, and by creating new partnerships and helping to strengthen health systems, the new strategy is structured to help meet health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – a the set of targets for reducing poverty and other global ills by 2015 – according to Mario Raviglione, Director of WHO’s Stop TB Department.

“The Stop TB Strategy aims to ensure access to care for all TB patients, to reach the 2015 Millennium Development Goal for TB and to reduce the burden of TB worldwide,” Dr. Raviglione affirmed.

The strategy, he said, builds on the TB-control approach known as DOTS, promoted by WHO to treat over 22 million patients since 1995, while also targeting the combined TB/HIV and drug-resistant MDR-TB strains of the disease.

“DOTS remains central to TB control,” he said. “But with DOTS programmes now established in 183 countries, the new Stop TB Strategy injects new energies to make efforts more comprehensive and effective.”

The Stop TB Strategy, detailed in the 17 March issue of the Lancet medical journal ahead of World TB Day on 24 March, was developed during a consultation process involving international health partners over a two-year period.

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