World Tuberculosis Day - 2018
The battle to eradicate Tuberculosis (TB) is far from over; this often-overlooked disease is still among the top 10 causes of death worldwide. In the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA) around 60 000 TB cases are reported annually. World Tuberculosis Day - marked each year on 24 March – is an occasion to raise awareness and advocate for efforts to eliminate TB.
In 2017, the first World Health Organization Ministerial Conference on TB took place, where over 120 national delegations adopted the “Moscow Declaration to End TB". Following this commitment, in 2018, the first UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on TB will be held. Political commitment is high on the agenda ahead of World TB Day 2018, and many are calling for stronger leadership to end TB. Negligence of TB can be dangerous, even in low-incidence settings, due to the presence difficult-to-treat drug resistant TB and increased population mobility.
The EU/EEA TB notification rate of is declining only by around 4% each year, when a decline of at least 10% is needed to reach the Sustainable Development Goals and global End TB Strategy targets. To further efforts to end TB, ECDC is championing the standardisation of whole genome sequencing (WGS) in the EU/EEA to enable tracing of transmission routes and emerging TB clones and the rapid identification of cross-border clusters. ECDC published its annual joint surveillance report with WHO regional office for Europe ahead of World TB Day 2018.
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Tuberculosis surveillance and monitoring
Together with the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe, ECDC collects and disseminates TB surveillance data for the European region. The tenth annual TB Surveillance Report presented the key findings on TB trends and an overview of the TB situation in Europe.
Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) for TB
WGS has become the reference microbial typing method in outbreak studies and is increasingly applied to surveillance of infectious diseases in EU/EEA. ECDC has initiated a pilot project, running from 2017–2020, on the use of WGS for molecular typing and characterisation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the EU/EEA.
Latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI)
Latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) carriers are asymptomatic and not infectious. Around 10% of LTBI carriers develop active TB at a later stage. To enable Member States to develop better screening strategies for LTBI, ECDC released technical reports on mathematical modelling and cost effectiveness analysis for this purpose. These are complimented by a tool directed at public health professionals and policymakers to help the estimation of costs and effects of different LTBI screening strategies.