Opening remarks by Dr Hanan Hassan Balkhy, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, …

24 March 2024

Thank you for gathering here today on World Tuberculosis Day. As one of the most deadly infectious diseases in the world, TB remains a pressing challenge to all WHO regions. In September 2023, the United Nations General Assembly convened its second high-level meeting on tuberculosis, at which Member States renewed their commitments to advance global, regional and national efforts towards ending the TB epidemic by endorsing a political declaration on TB with ambitious targets for the next five years.

Despite the setbacks of the COVID-19 emergency, countries and territories of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region have fully recovered in terms of the pandemic’s impacts on TB prevention and care. The number of notified people in the Region diagnosed with TB is 579 thousand cases. This exceeds the 2019 level. The treatment success rates in the Region are among the highest of all six WHO regions. We are finding more people with TB, and we are treating most of them successfully. WHO support to its Member States has led to improvements in the quality of services, treatment outcomes and heightened quality of life for affected people. But our Region remains particularly slow in one important area: tuberculosis preventive treatment.

Currently only 5% of eligible contacts of TB patients and 8% of people living with HIV in the Region receive the preventive treatment.

The Region’s performance in this area is a cause for concern, as the low levels of access to preventive treatment put many people at unnecessary risk of developing TB disease.

Read more…