During a recent country visit to Romania, ECDC emphasised the key issues for TB control. Following the invitation of the Romania Ministry of Health, ECDC disease experts, led by ECDC Director Marc Sprenger, visited the Marius Nasta Institute, which historically has been in the front line for TB control in the country. ECDC Director Marc Sprenger emphasised three key and universal issues on TB that are equally applicable within the EU and beyond.
1. TB control --- particularly in settings that are rapidly moving from high/intermediate incidence to low rates of disease --- needs to be sustained. Mindful planning to preserve the vital availability of skilled TB health forces and quality resources are of pivotal importance in assuring that TB services remain uninterrupted.
Through experiences the Agency has acquired via numerous country visits and capacity building initiatives with its partners such as World Health Organization and the European Commission, ECDC can support countries to meet evolving epidemiological situations.
2. A strong network of national, quality-assured TB laboratories remains the pillar for TB control and in diagnosing TB. This requires sustained training of skilled TB laboratory workforce, the implementation of new diagnostic tools for rapid diagnosis of TB and MDR-TB and the availability of a functioning quality assurance system.
ECDC has recognized the importance of implementing new rapid diagnostics and their value in improving TB patient care and preventing transmission. The European Reference Laboratory Network (ERLN-TB) has as one of its pillars, the development of guidance, assurance of quality and capacity building for programmatic implementation of new diagnostic tools for TB. ECDC is in an optimal position to offer support to countries, benefiting from resources of its entire network.
3. Assuring the continuous availability of quality assured first and second line drugs is the only way forward in alleviating TB morbidity and --- more importantly from a public health perspective --- to stop further transmission of TB and its resistant forms (M/XDR-TB).
ECDC can work with partners with a specific mandate in assurance of drugs, availability and procurement (i.e. WHO’s Green Light Committee and the Global Drug Facility under Stop TB Partnership) in finding sustainable approaches to maintain a steady flow of TB drugs to countries that need them most.
See Spotlight on Tuberculosis