As the world comes together to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to ensure that essential health services and operations are continued to protect the lives of people with TB and other diseases or health conditions. Health services, including national programmes to combat TB, need to be actively engaged in ensuring an effective and rapid response to COVID-19 while ensuring that TB services are maintained.
In the lead- up to World TB Day, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General emphasized in a news release, “COVID-19 is highlighting just how vulnerable people with lung diseases and weakened immune systems can be. The world committed to end TB by 2030; improving prevention is key to making this happen.”
WHO Global TB Programme, along with WHO regional and country offices, has developed an information note, in collaboration with stakeholders. This note is intended to assist national TB programmes and health personnel to urgently maintain continuity of essential services for people affected with TB during the COVID-19 pandemic, driven by innovative people-centred approaches, as well as maximizing joint support to tackle both diseases.
“We stand in solidarity with those affected by COVID-19 and those at the frontlines of the fight to combat the disease,” said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of the WHO Global TB Programme. “We need to act with urgency to ensure that in line with our vision of Health for All, no one with TB, COVID-19 or any health condition will miss out on the prevention and care they need. It’s time for action.”
This information note was originally published on 20 March 2020 and later updated on 4 April, 12 May and 15 December.