Engaging with Pharmacists to End Tuberculosis by 2030

Dr. Nirupa Misra. B. Pharm.M. MedSc.PhD

We commemorate World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, annually in order to raise public awareness about its devastating health, social, and economic consequences as well as to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic. One of the health targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is ending the TB epidemic by 2030. The date also marks the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which enabled the diagnosis and cure of this disease.

In the Global Tuberculosis Report 2023, the World Health Organisation (WHO) highlighted that although more than 7.5 million people with TB received access to diagnosis and treatment in 2022 (the most since we began TB monitoring approximately 30 years ago), TB remains one of the world’s top infectious killers. The disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic and the ongoing global conflicts have been major factors hindering the progress towards meeting the global TB targets that were set in 2018.

Urgent and intensified action is required by countries, partners and civil society to ramp up the TB response to save the lives of millions affected by TB each year. Poverty, inequity, under-nutrition, comorbidities, discrimination, and stigma are major drivers of the TB epidemic. Ending TB requires concerted action by all sectors to provide the right services, support, and an enabling safe environment at the right place and time. Pharmacists, with their knowledge, skills and abilities as the custodians of medicine and the key role that they play in ensuring healthcare delivery in their communities must rise to the challenge to end TB.

Finding the TB cases that are missed cases by national TB programmes (NTPs) is critical to end the transmission of this airborne bacteria. Closing these gaps and ensuring patient-centred care implies that quality-assured and affordable TB services must be made available wherever people choose to seek care.

Health care providers outside the ambit of NTPs, including the private and informal sector, are often the first point of care for TB patients. However, these providers may not be fully engaged, despite the possibility of increased detection and good treatment outcomes through public–private mix (PPM) approaches. Unless all relevant health care providers are effectively engaged in the TB response, it may not be possible to achieve global or national end TB goals.
Failure to engage the full range of health care providers for TB has the following serious consequences:

  • Increased transmission as a result of delayed diagnosis and treatment.
  • Excess mortality and morbidity as a result of inappropriate treatment.
  • Increased drug resistance as a result of incomplete treatment.
  • Catastrophic costs to patients and their families as a result of out-of-pocket expenditures for private care.
  • Incomplete monitoring and evaluation of TB services

Engaging private and other care providers can also contribute to easing the heavy burden on NTPs, which face multiple competing priorities, such as drug resistance, changes in diagnostic and treatment protocols and roll out of new tools, along with all the operational demands of large-scale service delivery.

The spotlight for World TB Month, this year, under the theme ‘Yes! We can end TB!’ – conveys a message of hope — that getting back-on-track to turn the tide against the TB epidemic is possible through high level leadership, increased investments, a faster uptake of the new WHO recommendations and public-private partnerships through engagement. Following the commitments made by Heads of State at the UN High Level Meeting in 2023 to accelerate progress to end TB, this year’s focus shifts to turning these commitments into tangible actions.

Let us unite as Pharmacists working in the public hospital sector, private hospital sector, community pharmacists, industry and academia to END TB by 2030.

Click Here to view our TB Infographics.

Bibliography

  1. Global tuberculosis report Geneva: World Health Organization; 2023. Licence: CC BY-NC- SA 3.0 IGO
  2. Multisectoral accountability framework to accelerate progress to end tuberculosis by 2030; World Health Organization 2019, accessed March 2024
  3. Public–private mix for TB prevention and care: a Geneva: World Health Organization; 2018. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
  4. The END TB Strategy, WHO/HTM/TB/2015.19
  5. Implementing the end TB strategy: the essentials, 2022 Geneva: World Health Organization; 2022. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO

Yes We Can End TB

World Tuberculosis Day 2024

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