Under the Global Cooperation Training Framework (GCTF), the U.S., Japan and Taiwan co-organize the four-day International Training Workshop on the Programmatic Management of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis from April 30 to May 3, 2019. Participants of the workshop include national TB programme directors and laboratory chiefs from Asian countries. Several distinguished guests attended the opening ceremony, including the Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), the former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, the Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Kelly Hsieh Wu-chiao (謝武樵), the Director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) William Brent Christensen (酈英傑), and the Deputy Representative Nishiumi Shigehiro (西海茂洋) of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association.
This Workshop is the sixth public health training held under the U.S.-Taiwan Global Cooperation Training Framework (GCTF), and this year also marks the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act. The former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, who during the 70th WHA spoke up for Taiwan’s participation in the WHO, was especially invited to deliver opening remarks. Dr. Price showed his support for events held under the GCTF, emphasized U.S.-Taiwan friendship and cooperation in disease control, and affirmed Taiwan’s contributions in building regional capacity and strengthening global health security.
DR-TB remains a threat to public health. The WHO estimated that 558,000 people in 2017 developed TB that was resistant to the first-line TB drug; 82% of these cases were MDR-TB. However, the current success rate for MDR-TB treatment is only around 55%, with most cases occurring in Asian countries. To achieve the WHO target of ending TB by 2035, the UN held the first-ever high-level meeting on TB during the UN General Assembly in September 2018. The UN urged countries worldwide to accelerate the research and development of more effective vaccines to fight against increasing threats posed by TB and DR-TB. Meanwhile, to strengthen the management of DR-TB, Taiwan established the Taiwan MDR-TB Consortium (TMTC) in 2007. With resources from the National Health Insurance system and Taiwan CDC, the TMTC offers free diagnosis and tailored treatment, and has increased the DR-TB treatment success rate to above 80% in Taiwan, making Taiwan an exemplar of TB prevention and control in the Asia-Pacific region.
Aside from Taiwan’s experts, 15 TB professionals from 8 countries, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, and Vietnam are participating in this workshop. Consultants from the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U.S. CDC Vietnam Office are attending as lecturers to share their experiences and expertise in DR-TB management, treatment, and diagnosis. In addition, a site visit program on LTBI screening has been arranged for participants to learn more about Taiwan’s experience. It is hoped that through participating in the workshop, TB professionals can exchange information and learn from one another, and subsequently improve the regional capacity to tackle DR-TB and prevent threats posed by infectious diseases.