Ensuring future success in our joint struggle to counter Tuberculosis in Iran

17 Sep 2013

  

Benameh Khoda,

Khanumha va Aghoyan,

Emruz, man kheily khoshal hastam az inja amadan.

Amma, man hanuz Farsi kheily khub sobhat ne mikonam.

Rooh, hala, man mikoham Inglisi sobhat khonam.

Dear Dr. Gouya, Dr. Nasehi, colleagues from universities of medical sciences, Prisons Organization, WHO, UNDP – I bid you – again – a warm welcome.

I am extremely pleased to participate in the opening ceremony of this Transition Planning Workshop for our GFATM grant entitled “Tuberclosis Prevention in High Burden Areas in the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

Back in April this year, the “Transition and Sustainability Plan” for the TB project was launched.

The plan aims to help to ensure sustainable project achievements by integrating project interventions and experiences into the national health system. 

The plan had been developed earlier through a national consultation process which was facilitated by UNDP under the auspices of the Country Coordinating Mechanism and the Center for Disease Control of the Ministry of Health – all this was done in collaboration with the Prisons Organization, the World Health Organization and the UNDP Global Fund Partnership Team.

Later, I was proud to learn that preparation and approval of the Transition Plan had been recognized by UNDP Global Fund Partnership as one of the constructive initiatives of UNDP Iran to be shared with other Country Offices.  Iran should be proud of this accomplishment.

Today we are honoured to be in the presence of a gathering of Health Deputies from the universities of Medical Sciences from the seven provinces which partner with the project:

These are:

  • Golestan,
  • Khorasan e Razavi,
  • Khorasan e Shomali,
  • Khorasan e Jonoubi,
  • Khuzestan,
  • Sistan va Baloochestan, and
  • Hormozgan

We also have – present in the audience – other colleagues who have supported this effort. 

All of this is a clear indication of determination by the Government to take ownership of the transition process and into the future.

So please allow me to go further and highlight the important role of the universities of medical sciences in ensuring sustainability of these efforts by finalizing and then initiating the implementation of their own provincial transition plans.

Let us also not forget the valuable support that our non-government partners can offer for more vigorous implementation of these plans.

Crucially, we need to ensure that sufficient funds are obtained to implement these plans.

But let’s also pause – for a moment – to take stock of what we have accomplished so far.

In its fight against tuberculosis, Iran has taken great strides.  It is among those countries in the world working hard to cut TB prevalence rates and deaths by half by 2015.

In pursuit of this plan, since 2008, Iran’s Ministry of Health and Medical Education, jointly with UNDP as Principal Recipient of the GFATM grant, and in close cooperation with the WHO, has been implementing the project – “Tuberclosis Prevention in High Burden Areas in the Islamic Republic of Iran” – to whose future sustainability this workshop will contribute significantly.

This project has significantly contributed to health system capacities in prevention and diagnosis of tuberculosis, and enhancing health infrastructure in 7 provinces I’ve named – provinces which were once identified as the hotspots of the disease.

Together we have managed to achieve significant results, which – as I have said – the Global Fund confirmed and appreciated.

  • We now have strengthened TB programme management capacities systems and quality assurance.
  • We have strengthened diagnosis lab facilities.
  • We have improved technical standards.
  • We have the increased treatment success rate and notification rate.
  • We have improved TB control program in prisons.  We have done this by strengthening patient identification, isolation and treatment facilities.
  • We have improved surveillance systems in prisons – this includes identification, reporting, and recording.
  • Finally, we have strengthened monitoring and evaluation capacities in our health systems.

 This impressive list represents just a few of the very important results coming from the implementation of this grant.

They have been achieved through the excellent efforts of the Ministry of Health and the powerful capacity of national and provincial institutions.

And of course, I extend thanks to our faithful partners in the WHO which was our prime source of technical assistance.

But such remarkable progress should not distract us from the challenges which lie ahead.

A lot remains to be done, especially in view of the growing multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis.

As Dr. Gouya has just said, if we leave multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis untreated, it will increase the risk of spread of drug resistant strains of TB.

And we all have to remember that tuberculosis is not the issue of one country or for people of only one social status – it should be of concern to us all.

So public awareness-raising initiatives need to be be an essential part of all TB control plans.

I am very pleased that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s efforts in fighting tuberculosis have achieved such significant results.

And I am confident that working together we shall improve our achievements and reach the set targets, and thus, overcome the remaining challenges.

In conclusion, I would like to extend my personal – and UNDP’s organizational – thanks to Dr. Gouya, Dr. Nassehi and their CDC colleagues, for their commitment – their leadership – and their support in organizing this important event.

We all wish it fruitful discussions and success of the workshop.

Kheily motashekeram.

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Mr. Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Iran