In view of the upcoming Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2015, at the end of March, 34 organizations from the Civil European Society, 4 of which located in Romania- The Romanian Angel Appeal Foundation, the A.S.P.T.M.R, Carousel and Development in Health Center- AFI, have addressed an open letter to Latvian Prime Minister, urging them to prioritize the issue of tuberculosis (TB) and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDB-TB) in their program of Presidency in the US Council.
The request to the Latvian Prime Minister of the 34 organizations from 16 European Countries is not random. It had appeared on the background of the most recent data provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding Europe, but also the progress made in TB control in Latvia.
Although global estimates indicate that overall TB rates have been decreasing since 2000, TB accounts for over 40% of all mortality from communicable diseases in the European region, as well as the most common cause of death among people living with HIV/AIDS. In 2012 alone, according to WHO statistics, there have been reported over 74,000 cases of MDR-TB in the European region, accounting for almost a quarter of the global burden of MDR-TB, although it only makes up 13% of the global population. 15 out of 27 MDR-TB high-burden countries are located in the European region, and five of them, including Latvia, are EU Member States.
As for the economic burden caused by TB in the region, a recent study which the letter refers to estimates the overall cost at €5,9 billion per year, including both the direct costs for health systems and the indirect costs due to productivity losses of the patients.
The phasing out of international donors, such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and USAID (United States Agency for International Development), caused the increasing of the risk of MDR-TB spreading throughout the EU on an even greater scale, if additional efforts and actions are not put into place from other states.
In the letter addressed to the Latvian Prime Minister, is it spoken of the matter that TB is not an isolated problem affection only high burden countries of the EU and EU neighbors. Western European countries, such as France or Italy, have been facing an increasing burden on their health systems with European citizens and neighbors desperately seeking treatment not available in their own countries. London, UK, has the highest TB rate of Western Europe, some areas having rates three times higher than the average in the European region. In Portugal, TB has been on the rise as a consequence of the economic crisis. Declining availability of resources coupled with the ubiquity of the problem regionally has made topical the need for regional political action, now more than ever.
The signatories of the open letter strongly believe that the prioritization of the issue of TB and the political European leadership could, along with the efforts of the EU Member States, help turn the tide of the TB epidemic in European Union as well as in the neighboring countries.
All the more that, according to the preliminary meeting held with a number of Member States’ representatives in Brussels, it is believed such an initiative would be very well received in the European Union.
The letter, in original form, is available in the attachments.
For more details, please contact:
General Manager of the Romanian Angel Appeal Foundation