Jorge Sampaio, United Nations special envoy for the fight against tuberculosis, on Tuesday called for a European Union initiative that would aim to curb the spread of TB and HIV in Africa.
Speaking before the E.U. Parliament's development committee, Sampaio said that the two diseases are spreading rapidly across the continent and that African countries are unable to combat them without assistance. "We are providing antiretrovirals to as many people as we can in Africa, but they are now dying because of tuberculosis, which is curable," Sampaio said.
According to Sampaio, the European Union should strengthen cooperation and coordination between HIV and TB programs.
In addition, Africa does not have enough health workers to diagnose the two diseases and monitor treatment, Sampaio said, adding that an E.U. plan to train health workers on managing the diseases "would not be too expensive."
An E.U. health plan for Africa also would help minimize the economic effects of the diseases, which in some African countries cause of loss of 7% of national GDP annually, Sampaio said.
In addition, building more hospitals and laboratories could help tackle the diseases, he said. Socialist members of the European Parliament, such as Emanuel Jardim Fernandes, said the plan should be included in the agenda of the next E.U.-Africa summit, which the Portuguese presidency will chair in December.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation