Updated on 3 May 2012
Dr Lucica Ditiu, executive secretary- Stop TB Partnership
The Stop TB Partnership was established in 2000 to realize the goal of eliminating Tuberculosis (TB) as a public health problem and, ultimately, to obtain a world free of TB. It comprises a network of international organizations, countries, donors from the public and private sectors, governmental and nongovernmental organizations. Its secretariat is hosted by WHO at Geneva and from there, it has been transforming the fight against TB in more than 100 countries.
Dr Lucica Ditiu, executive secretary, Stop TB Partnership, was recently in New Delhi to hold discussion with Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) for chalking out joint strategy to tackle the TB cases in India. BioSpectrum, in an exclusive interview with Dr Lucica Ditiu, tried to know about the current TB situation, role played by the Stop TB Partnership, effective measures to tackle the disease and much more.
How serious is the situation as far as TB related death cases are concerned? How advanced is our response to prevent and control these?
India has the highest number of people with TB in the world - 2 million new cases each year - and the highest number of people dying from TB - 280,000 a year. The challenge is clearly huge, but India is rising in the global health arena. The country is moving towards universal access to quality TB care, it has the world's fastest growing pharmaceutical industry and it has huge potential to become a global frontrunner in biotech, medical and public health research.
Which measures do you think are vital to tackle the TB driven deaths in India and world?
Our Global Plan to Stop TB 2011-2015 sets out a path towards eliminating TB. Essentially we need to focus on two main areas. The first is to drive universal access to TB care, including modernizing diagnostic laboratories and adopting revolutionary TB tests. The second part of the plan sets out all the research gaps that need to be filled in order to bring rapid TB tests, faster treatments and a fully effective vaccine to market. If fully funded, the activities set out in the plan will cut global TB deaths in half by 2015.
Which sort of role is being played by Stop TB Partnership in this regard? What is the criteria laid for the potential projects to be funded by the Partnership?
The Partnership's primary role is to ensure a bold vision on TB and to coordinate and catalyze global efforts towards achieving the targets set out in the Global Plan. Through working groups we are accelerating progress on key issues such as access to treatment, developing new TB drugs and the TB/HIV co-epidemic. We support countries in the development of national partnerships and action plans, stimulate research through the TB Research Movement and, through our Global Drug Facility, ensure the timely delivery of drugs and diagnostics at sustainable prices.