Signing of a new TB initiative between the World Health Organization and the International Pharmaceutical Federation

A series of measures to help detect TB, offer treatment support to TB patients, and substantially reduce the number of deaths from TB

In a landmark initiative aimed at curbing the current tuberculosis (TB) epidemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) today signed a Joint Statement on the role of pharmacists in tuberculosis care and control at the Federation's 71st International Congress in Hyderabad, India.

The Joint Statement establishes a series of measures to help detect TB, offer treatment support to TB patients, and substantially reduce the number of deaths from TB. This would be achieved by encouraging the FIP's network of two million pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists around the world to become fully engaged in national TB care and control efforts.

TB is one of the world's biggest infectious killers and caused 1.7 million deaths in 2009, and nearly 300,000 deaths in India. But it is also curable. Patients can be treated by completing a six month course of prescribed medicines. And it is because pharmacists are often the first point of contact for people with TB symptoms - especially in countries with a high burden of TB - that their frontline role is critical.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Dr Hiroki Nakatani, WHO Assistant Director-General for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases, welcomed the new accord with FIP: "Pharmacists can be the gatekeepers to vital TB health services. WHO welcomes the opportunities that further collaboration with the federation's network of pharmacists will bring in helping many people with tuberculosis gain early access to the care and treatment they need."

His comments were echoed by Dr Michel Buchmann, the President of FIP: "While recognizing the broader role of pharmacists in the development and use of anti-TB medicines, this Joint Statement focuses on the role of pharmacists directly involved in the care of people with TB. The International Pharmaceutical Federation will endeavor to support WHO and their Member States in enabling national tuberculosis programmes and national pharmacy associations to strengthen their collaboration towards care and control of TB and multidrug-resistant-TB globally."

The landmark WHO/FIP Joint Statement - Engaging Pharmacists in TB Care and Control - calls on TB programmes and pharmacy associations to engage pharmacists and use their untapped potential in the fight against TB by:

  • increasing awareness of TB, and refer people with TB symptoms to facilities with quality diagnosis and treatment;
  • providing patient-centered treatment supervision to promote adherence and help prevent multidrug-resistant TB;
  • promoting the rational use of anti-TB medicines through: a) procuring and dispensing quality-assured medicines and fixed-dose combinations recommended by WHO; b) prohibiting the sale of anti-TB medicines over the counter, or without prescription;
  • supporting health-care providers to rationalize and strengthen their TB management practices.

Dr Mario Raviglione, WHO's Stop TB Department Director, added his support to the new era of collaboration: "The contribution that the federation's network of pharmacists can make in the fight against TB cannot be overstated. Pharmacists can become important players in the push to achieve our ultimate goal - the goal of a world free of TB."

The initiative backs previous endeavours by FIP Member Organisations to further involve pharmacists in TB care and control, most notably with the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme of India.

Link to the WHO/FIP Joint Statement click here

Link to the WHO 2010/2011 TB Global Facts click here

International Pharmaceutical Federation

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Published: Sept. 4, 2011, 5:58 p.m.

Last updated: Sept. 4, 2011, 6:06 p.m.

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