World TB Day 2020 Newsletter



Latest news and updates from WHO

Dear colleagues and friends,

World TB Day, this year, comes at a sobering time – as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. We stand in solidarity with those affected, those at the frontlines of the fight to combat COVID-19, as well as those who continue efforts to support
those ill with longstanding health problems like TB, HIV and other diseases. However, we cannot forget the millions and their families who battle TB every day and lose their lives to this ancient disease – which remains the world’s top
infectious killer.

As eloquently emphasized by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in his press briefing on COVID-19 yesterday, “I’d like to remind everyone that although COVID-19 is dominating the world’s attention-there is another respiratory
disease that is both preventable and treatable, but kills 1.5 million people every year – that disease is tuberculosis”

“It’s Time”, the focus for World TB Day this year is therefore on urgently accelerating the TB response to save lives and end suffering, even in times of crisis. This will be essential if we are to reach the targets and commitments made
by Heads of State at the 2018 UN High Level Meeting on TB. 

We have made important strides against the TB epidemic to date.

We announced last year, that more people received life-saving treatment for tuberculosis in 2018 than ever before, largely due to improved detection and diagnosis. Globally, 7 million people were diagnosed and treated for TB – up from 6.4 million in 2017
– enabling the world to meet one of the milestones towards the United Nations political declaration targets on TB and the WHO Director-General Flagship Initiative Find.Treat.All End TB jointly with Stop TB Partnership and the Global Fund. This
has been a big win for the TB community.

WHO is working with countries to roll out important guidelines, including a comprehensive package on TB preventive treatment released today, and updated MDR TB guidelines to promote the use of all-oral regimens for patients with drug-resistant TB which
would be helpful – particularly at this point, when visiting health centers is a challenge. Furthermore, WHO has developed a note to guide and urge countries to ensure continuity of TB services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are strengthening our collaboration with civil society – more information is highlighted in the WHO Civil Society Taskforce Progress Review released today.

Youth mobilization is being ramped up through the WHO 1+1 Youth Initiative to end TB and the Global Youth Declaration to End TB. Multisectoral accountability is being promoted in countries through our framework and we have finalized a new global strategy
on TB research and innovation, that will be reviewed by the World Health Assembly.

Yet, the gains we have made are at risk – if there is any slackening of commitment and action, especially in times of crisis.

We are at a crossroads and we need to unite forces to take the path of success that will save lives and end suffering.

I was especially heartened today, to see the TB community coming together like never before. We all took our events to the virtual realm due to COVID-19 lockdowns. The WHO Online Talk Show held this afternoon, had a powerful line up of speakers that included,
TB survivors and advocates, civil society, high level government representatives, heads of agencies, researchers and partners. As of this evening we have surpassed 10,000 views on YouTube. I also participated in townhalls organized by Stop TB Partnership.
Our joint efforts have indeed ensured a continuing spotlight on those affected by TB, and clearly shows that no matter what the barrier, we can surpass it if we work together.

I am proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you all virtually – and recommit to champion End TB efforts till we reach the finish line.

It’s time to deliver on our promises and ensure no one is left behind.

It’s time to End TB!

Dr Tereza Kasaeva
Global TB Programme
World Health Organization

World TB Day Talk Show

In the backdrop of the global battle against COVID-19, WHO organized a special online talk show to mark World TB Day 2020. The talk show had a powerful line up of speakers from among TB survivors and advocates, civil society, high-level government representatives,
heads of agencies, researchers and partners. The video was streamed live on WHO’s Youtube channel crossing over 10,000 views in a few hours. Watch the talk show video

Spotlight on TB Preventive Treatment

New WHO recommendations to prevent tuberculosis aim to save millions of lives

24 March 2020 News release

Geneva –  New World Health Organization (WHO) guidance will help countries accelerate efforts to stop people with tuberculosis (TB) infection becoming sick with TB by giving them preventive treatment. A quarter of the world‘s population
is estimated to be infected with TB bacteria. These people are neither sick nor contagious. However, they are at greater risk of developing TB disease, especially those with weakened immunity. Offering them TB preventive treatment will not only protect
them from becoming sick but also cut down on the risk of transmission in the community. Read more

The full package is available below and at our World TB Day Campaign Page

WHO Civil Society Taskforce on TB: Progress Review

The WHO Civil Society Taskforce provides a platform for meaningful engagement of civil society, building on the commitment of the Director-General, with emphasis on harnessing the untapped potential in engagement with civil society and affected communities
al all levels. To mark World TB Day 2020, the Task Force has released a Progress Review highlighting key achievements since its formation in 2018.

Access link here

WHO eTB guidelines: A digital platform to promote adolopment of TB recommendations

WHO Global TB Programme / McMaster University

The WHO Global Tuberculosis (TB) Programme, in collaboration with McMaster University, Canada, is developing a smart platform to improve access to and use of all WHO recommendations on TB prevention and care. The WHO eTB guidelines platform will facilitate
the adoption, adaptation and implementation (“adolopment”) by countries of recommendations across the continuum of care. This digital platform will provide a variety of users – TB programme managers, healthcare workers including
nurses, researchers, patients and affected communities – with easy access to all essential information about WHO-s current policy guidance on TB.

The first set of recommendations on TB preventive treatment were released on this new platform on World TB Day.

WHO eTB guidelines platform


TB and COVID-19

24 March 2020 News release

Geneva –  As the world comes together to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to ensure that essential health services and operations are continued to protect the lives of people with TB and other diseases or health conditions. Health services,
including national programmes to combat TB, need to be actively engaged in ensuring an effective and rapid response to COVID-19 while ensuring that TB services are maintained. Read more

Let’s never forget: It’s time to end TB

Ksenia Schenina

Ksenia Schenina

24 March 2020 Photo story

On World TB Day 2020, the theme – “Its time” – stresses the urgency to end the TB epidemic. TB survivor and advocate, Ksenia Schenina, talks about her struggle with the disease, the persistence of stigma and the role that remembrance can play
in fighting it.   Through her TB memorial project, she aims to remember those who passed away from this terrible and ancient disease. “We do it to show what kind of people they were – what kind of things they liked, what kind of music
they listened to and what their favorite movies were; if they liked fishing or dreamt of a flight to space,” she says. Read more


To end TB, we must invest in research and innovation

24 March 2020 Commentary

If the world is to get anywhere near ending TB, a disease that killed more than 1.5 million people in 2018, something significant needs to change.

TB remains the world’s leading infectious killer and yet, in the last 50 years, only three new drugs and regimes have been developed to combat the disease. “What we need is more research and more tools in the pipeline; better diagnostics,
more effective vaccines, and safer, shorter drug regimes,” explains Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of the World Health Organization Global Tuberculosis Programme. Read more

Emily: A Day in the Life of a TB Nurse

Maria Emily C. Ballesteros

Watch this story of Emily, a nurse managing the tuberculosis (TB) program of the City Health Office in Tuguegarao City. Her dream for Tuguegarao is to one day see zero TB cases and that no one dies from this infectious disease. Nurses and healthcare workers
play a critical role in TB prevention and care. It’s time to invest in them to improve healthcare for all. We thank all the nurses, midwives and healthcare workers working to #EndTB! Watch the video

Updates and messages

New research tool supports scale-up of digital technologies to End TB

24 March 2020 TDR news item

National anti-tuberculosis efforts are increasingly involving digital technologies, such as mobile applications to support treatment adherence and electronic surveillance systems that enable real-time monitoring of a country’s TB situation. Read more

World TB Day 2020: It’s Time for solidarity

24 March 2020 HIV/TB news item

At this unique time in history when the world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO Department of Global HIV, Hepatitis and STI Programmes stands in solidarity with governments and communities as they seek to maintain health services
and continue to address the needs of patients suffering from HIV and tuberculosis (TB).  Read more

New, shorter treatment to prevent TB to be rolled out in five high TB burden countries

24 March 2020 news item

Three-month regimen expected to prevent TB in those at highest risk of developing the disease, including people living with HIV and children under the age of five
Today, the Aurum Institute and its partners, as part of the IMPAACT4TB project, announced that five high-burden TB countries will roll out a new, shorter drug regimen (known as 3HP) to prevent TB. The announcement comes as countries around the world mark World TB Day, which takes place every year on March 24th. Countries that will initially provide the new regimen with funding from Unitaid, U.S. PEPFAR and the Global Fund include Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe. More than 120,000 patient courses of 3HP will be delivered by the project to 12 countries in 2020. An additional 1 million patient courses are expected to reach low- and middle-income countries by the end of the year, through the combined support of Unitaid, Global Fund, the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Drug Facility (GDF) and PEPFAR. Read more


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