Basra, 24 March 2013 – Iraq joined the rest of the world in commemorating World TB Day 2013 under the slogan of “Stop TB in My Lifetime”. The campaign aims to promote bold action and an ambitious approach to TB control.
Each year, the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with WHO and other partners, recognizes World TB Day with a variety of activities. In Basra, the Day's events kicked off with a TB conference attended by over 200 people including decision-makers, civil society organizations, academic institutions and the media.
“Tuberculosis is still the number one infectious killer of adults in the world“ said Dr Riyad Al-Hilfi, Director-General of
Basrah Health Directorate, Ministry of Health, Iraq. “On this occasion, we re-commit ourselves to exert all efforts to put an end to the suffering from tuberculosis in Iraq” he added.
Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, stated that “We know what to do, we know we can defeat tuberculosis, we know we can save unnecessary suffering caused by tuberculosis in our countries. With this conviction, let us commit ourselves to do better, and more, in our fight against tuberculosis.""
Iraq has shown dedication and commitment to the prevention and control of TB. Between 2003 and 2012, the TB case detection rate gradually and consistently increased to reach 57%, which was 8664 TB cases in 2012. Eighty-nine per cent (89%) of infectious cases detected were successfully treated. In addition, care for multidrug-resistant forms of TB was expanded and innovative partnerships were developed between the public and private sectors, and with civil society, TB-affected communities, donors and the media. Despite appreciable progress made against TB in Iraq, 43% of the total estimated number of TB cases are still missed every year, leaving thousands of untreated TB patient suffering and causing the suffering to others.
The Ministry of Health through the national TB control programme, with the technical and financial support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, UNDP and WHO, aims to detect more TB cases and provide appropriate treatment for TB patients. “Treating and curing people with TB prevents the spread of the disease, reduces poverty, strengthens health systems, engages all care providers and empowers those affected" said Dr Fadhil Ali Abbas, manager of the national TB control programme.
Dr Syed Jaffar Hussain, WHO Representative in Iraq, reconfirmed WHO's commitment and continued support to the Ministry of Health and other line ministries and agencies, in the fight against TB in the country. He noted that the fight was directly linked to Millenium Development Goal 6 to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB and other diseases and that WHO calls on leaders, government, donor organizations, UN organizations, civil society, and communities to support, fund and implement the national TB control programme's activities in order to achieve the hope of reversing TB incidence and halving the 1990 level of TB prevalence and death rates by 2015.