8 April 2021, Geneva | The definitions of tuberculosis (TB) treatment outcomes have been revised by the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Global Tuberculosis Programme. New definitions of treatment outcomes will standardise the assessment of treatment outcomes for all TB patients and all treatment regimens regardless of drug-resistance status, type of drugs used or duration of treatment.
Standardized treatment outcome definitions for TB have been a feature of WHO policies and national TB surveillance systems for many years and have allowed monitoring of TB treatment outcomes over time at national and global levels. Currently, treatment success – for drug-susceptible TB (DS-TB) or with drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) – is one of the top 10 indicators in WHO’s End TB Strategy.
“The new definitions will enable effective assessment of treatment outcomes for people with TB and facilitate programme monitoring” said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme. “We urge national TB programmes to transition to these new definitions therefore simplifying and streamlining country recording and reporting systems.”
The new definitions of treatment outcomes will apply from 2021. These will be included in the 2021 revision of WHO’s Definitions and reporting framework for tuberculosis. The definitions will also need to be adopted for programmatic implementation, and for use in registration and reporting to monitor progress towards ending TB. National TB programmes will need to orient their staff and surveillance systems to accommodate the new definitions.
The definitions were updated following a consultation convened by WHO’s Global TB Programme in November 2020 that brought together around 70 participants, representing countries, bilateral and multilateral agencies, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, civil society and academia.
Global TB monitoring and reporting are expected to reflect the updated treatment outcome definitions in 2022. This will give country programmes time to update their registration and reporting systems to use the new definitions during 2021. Countries will be requested to report data according to the new definitions in the 2022 round of global TB collection, expected to start in April 2022. In countries where the new definitions have not been adopted by 2022, allowances will be made to enable reporting of outcomes according to the old definitions.