Uniting forces in health response during the COVID-19 outbreak
As the Corona virus pandemic spreads around the globe, and all health care systems and governments seem to be engulfed with battling COVID-19, we realise it is more important than ever that we don’t lose sight of other existing health issues. Considering tuberculosis (TB), COVID-19 is an immense threat: those who suffer from TB are at a greater risk of developing complications and severe illness caused by COVID-19, especially when their TB treatment is interrupted.
At the same time, the expertise built up in the fight against TB can also strengthen the global COVID-19 response. A great example of this is that the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Drug Facility (GDF) recently expanded its Diagnostics Catalogue to include a new test for novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease. The GDF is already engaging with programmes and partners to determine the demand for new COVID-19 tests and helping to determine the need for additional machines to ensure TB testing continues while adding COVID-19 testing to these programmes.
This shows that at this time, it is crucial that the world comes together to not only fight COVID-19, but uses this moment to unite forces and continue tackling longstanding health problems, such as TB and other diseases.
This was supported by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on World TB day (24th March) as he presented new WHO guidance to help countries to accelerate their efforts by providing vulnerable populations with preventative TB treatment. This will not only minimise their chances of getting TB, it will also cut down the level of transmission to others.
By addressing underlying health problems and vulnerabilities, we are strengthening the health response that will not only help patients who are at greater risk, but also ensure they are not a risk to others. The global outbreak of COVID-19 has shown how important that is, and IDA Foundation aims to play an important role in that for many years to come.
For information on IDA’s TB activities, please see IDA’s TB page https://www.idafoundation.org/en/tb
For more information on the Stop TB partnership / Global Drug Facility, please see http://www.stoptb.org/gdf/