Target tuberculosis in rich world as model for poor: WHO

By Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday launched an ambitious plan for rich countries to sharply reduce tuberculosis infections and serve as a model for harder-hit countries of Africa and Asia, where the disease still thrives. Although the 33 targeted countries, 21 of them in Europe, have relatively low rates of infection, the disease still kills 10,000 people a year there – predominantly homeless people, migrants, prisoners, drug users, heavy drinkers or people with HIV/AIDS – the WHO said. It is in these communities that industrialized countries including the United States could pilot approaches to a disease that is both preventable and curable that could then be transferred to poorer countries, Dr. Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO’s Global TB Programme, told a news briefing. “We are after, really, is finding what we call trailblazers or model countries that would embark in a resolute way on this campaign against tuberculosis, proving that it is indeed possible to get to elimination level,” Raviglione said.
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