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Public Health (30-06-2009)
European policy makers focus on tuberculosis, Luxembourg - 30 June - 1 July 2009
The European Commission, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organisation's Regional Office for Europe (WHO EURO) meet in Luxembourg for a two-day meeting on how to prevent and control tuberculosis. This meeting follows on from the 2007 Berlin Declaration and provides an opportunity to analyse progress made and actions needed.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Andrzej Rys, Director of Public health at the European Commission said: "[this meeting] confirms our common commitment to the Berlin Declaration by ensuring support, monitoring and increasing awareness in European countries on tuberculosis control and elimination."
Despite recent achievements in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of tuberculosis, it still remains a serious public health threat. In 2007, 500 000 tuberculosis cases were reported in the 53 WHO EURO countries, including 85 000 in the 27 EU and EFTA/EEA countries. This represents nearly 55 tuberculosis cases reported every hour and an increase of 55 000 cases in comparison with 2006.
Various factors may explain this situation: the high prevalence of tuberculosis in vulnerable groups, the association of HIV co-infection and the emergence of tuberculosis strains resistant to drugs.
The European Commission is tackling tuberculosis in several ways:
EU wide Surveillance - Since 2000, the European Commission identified Tuberculosis as one of the 44 diseases and special health issues under EU wide surveillance. More recently, following a request from the European Commission, the ECDC presented a Framework Action Plan to fight Tuberculosis in the European Union and EFTA/EEA countries.
Research - Through its Framework Research Programme, the European Commission supports the development of new treatments, vaccines, drugs and diagnostic tools.
Development aid - The European Commission also supports tuberculosis control programmes in developing countries where there it is an even greater threat.
The Berlin Declaration created a momentum that guarantees constant and long-lasting efforts to control tuberculosis – this meeting is an example of this joint commitment.
At the meeting, a European award will be given to a Non Governmental Organisation to highlight the important work carried out to fight tuberculosis.