“TB causes loss of human life and poses a threat to the development process. It is a curable disease from which no one should die,” said First Lady of Iraq H.E. Mrs Hero Ibrahim Ahmed at the launch of the Iraq National Stop TB Partnership in Sulaimaniyah on 27 June 2012. She praised the efforts of ministries of health and WHO in implementing the global Stop TB Strategy, which aims to ensure universal access to treatment and care services for all TB patients.
The establishment of the National Stop TB Partnership in Iraq is based on close collaboration between partners in implementing innovative, unconventional ways to fight TB at the national level. Poverty, nutrition, housing, education, labour conditions and the environment are all factors which contribute to the spread of the disease.
“The Iraq National Stop TB Partnership will provide a platform for the launch of creative activities to reach as many people as possible affected by TB. It aims to effectively stop the spread of the disease in Iraq and achieve the targets of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015,” said H.E. the Minister of Health of Iraq Dr Majeed Hamad Amin.
H.E. the Minister of Health of the Kurdistan Regional Government Dr Rekawt Hama Rasheed emphasized that in line with the Partnership’s focus for 2012, efforts would be intensified to ensure treatment and care services for multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) patients. “The Ministry of Health of the Kurdistan Regional Government will direct its attention towards making the newly-rehabilitated national MDR-TB hospital in Sulaimaniyah fully functional as soon as possible to receive its first patients". H.E. added that, “The new hospital, with a capacity of 30 beds, will provide specialized treatment and medical services to MDR-TB patients”.
In 2011, Iraq’s national TB control programme increased TB case detection rates and maintained high treatment success and cure rates. Dr Syed Jaffar Hussain, WHO Representative in Iraq, said that the fight against TB was the collective responsibility of the nation and that the range of partners from the public and private sector, civil society and the media who had come together to mobilize capacity were driven by their determination to stop the spread of TB.
The Partnership was initiated by the national TB control programme, with the technical support of WHO and the financial support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. On the day of its launch, the Partnership included more than 20 members, including government institutions, the private health sector, nongovernmental organizations, the media and persons living with the disease.