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Dr. Owen Kaluwa who is the Representative of World Health Organization emphasized in his speech that, " tuberculosis has been an important global health priority for decades. Globally, between 2000 and 2016,our efforts to tackle TB have saved an estimated 53 million lives and reduced TB mortality by half".

Despite these gains, the burden of suffering and death due to TB remains immense. TB is the world's biggest infectious killer today. Last year alone, more than 10 million people fell ill with TB, of which 1.7 million people lost their lives and more than a quarter of the burden lies in Africa,he said".

According to him, in Ghana, despite strong leadership from the Ministry Of Health and substantial support from national and international partners in the last decade, more than 60 percent of people with TB are left undiagnosed or unreported, and TB continues to kill men, women and children in Ghana.

To step up our effort to tackle this public health menace, Member States of WHO unanimously adopted the WHO End TB strategy during the Sixty- seventh World Health Assembly in 2014. The Strategy aims to end TB by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals 3.3. It has set out clear guiding principles and targets for countries to achieve this important global vision. One of the three high-level target is that " no TB patients and their families should face catastrophic costs due to TB".

The survey results, that will be disseminated today, are extremely valuable not only for monitoring progress towards the " zero catastrophic costs " target, but also for their numerous policy implications. They are important to improve health system capacity to deliver people -centred, quality TB services, as well as accelerate Ghana's progress towards Universal health coverage".

Universal health coverage is defined as " all people having access to good quality health services without people experiencing financial hardship ". Universal Health coverage is one of the core priorities of WHO 's work. The TB patient cost survey assessed financial hardship incurred by TB patients when accessing care. A critical question for all of us today is whether we can accept what the survey found, which is that "the majority of TB patients and their families faced catastrophic costs due to TB in Ghana ".

Finally, Not limited to health, the survey findings also provide valuable evidence on their interdependent nature across various SDGs, especially SDG 1 "No poverty " SDG 2 "Zero Hunger", SDG 8 "Decent Work and Economic Growth", and 10 "Reduced Inequality ". By using the survey findings, we must transform our TB response from a conventional public health response to a social response to end TB. Improving TB care requires support from other sectors and partners, and a stronger TB response can contribute to the goals of various social sectors".

Source | | Kofi Dwumah

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