Intervention by Michelle Childs, Médecins Sans Frontières International
Médecins Sans Frontières actively responds to, and advocates on, many different diseases under discussion today. These include:
7,000 people received treatment in 2010. Although a step-up from 50 treated in 2005, this represents just a fraction of those in need. Continued progress reporting is required. We call on Member States to scale up screening, and to diagnose and treat at primary healthcare level, as requested in PAHO and WHO resolutions. Follow-up and treatment of babies born to women with Chagas disease is also needed.
Recent stock ruptures of first-line treatment drug benznidazole hampered the activities of MSF and national control programmes. Ministries of Health in Latin America and PAHO should commit to drug forecasting to facilitate continuous and sustainable production.
Just as WHO led the way for a public health response to HIV/AIDS, the same is needed for Hepatitis C – we need guidelines for treatment and care. There should also be recognition that price is a barrier to accessing treatment, both now, and in the future.
Wide access and affordability of the treatment game changers that are soon to be available need to be ensured.
Multidrug and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Most country plans are not ambitious enough and just a small fraction of people with MDR TB are and will be diagnosed and treated in the coming years, far off the targets set by the 62nd WHA. We call on Member States to considerably strengthen their efforts.
Rampant irrational use and over-the-counter availability of TB drugs in a number of countries risks further resistance development. This requires urgent action, especially as new drugs will soon be introduced.
Looking ahead, the development of a new TB strategy should begin now, as the current one expires in 2015.
We welcome steps taken by WHO on the cholera vaccine. MSF is currently vaccinating in reaction to a cholera outbreak in Guinea, as part of a comprehensive strategy. There is still a need to develop an easier-to-use single dose cholera vaccine. We note with concern that cholera cases in Haiti are on the rise and preparation is not adequate. MSF treated 1,600 cases in Port-au-Prince in April, a quadrupling in less than a month.
Human African Trypanosomiasis
Since the 1980s, MSF has screened over three million and treated over 50,000 people for sleeping sickness. Through insufficient surveillance in remote and insecure areas, prevalence, mortality and active transmission are undoubtedly higher than reported, with sleeping sickness patients dying undiagnosed. Member States should close the surveillance gap in central African countries, especially targeting remote and insecure areas and to close the severe funding gaps of control programmes. Only DRC has significant bilateral donor support to its national programme, but this will end in mid-2013.