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WHO and ERS launch new digital health agenda for action to end TB

29 September, 2015

Amsterdam, The Netherlands – The WHO Global TB Programme and the European Respiratory Society (ERS) today launched a new Agenda for Action to harness the power of information and communication technology to end TB.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious global public health threat, causing 1.5 million deaths in 2013 and 9 million people falling ill that year. New information and communication technology present significant opportunities to combat this disease on various fronts. The Agenda highlights strategic directions to integrate digital health into TB prevention and care activities in support of WHO's End TB Strategy.

"We need to "think digital" in our push to end TB," said Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of the WHO Global TB Programme. "Information and communication technology are powerful tools and will be vital in helping us reach our ambitious new global targets in both low- and high-income settings".

Digital health for the End TB Strategy - an agenda for action:

- Advocates that TB programmes, other national authorities and all stakeholders integrate digital health solutions in their implementation of the End TB Strategy. Information and communication technology can help advance patient care, surveillance, programme management, staff development (e.g. eLearning), and the engagement of communities.

- Guides programmes on promising options for first focus of efforts, building on the limited available evidence about the effectiveness of digital health interventions for ending TB.

- Promotes continued monitoring and investment in implementation research on digital health interventions to increase the evidence base on effectiveness and impact.

"This Agenda for Action can spur the acceleration and scale-up of TB efforts needed in the next few years. It is vital that we tackle TB, in particular, the growing threat of drug-resistant TB, and digital technologies present a valuable resource to facilitate this goal", said ERS Secretary General, Professor GB Migliori.

President of ERS, Professor Elisabeth Bel, commented: "As more digital technologies develop, there is no better time to effectively integrate their potential into strategies to tackle some of the most pressing health issues, including TB."

The Agenda is the product of a WHO/ERS consultation held in 2015 and related resulting workstreams. A set of target product profiles (TPPs) were elaborated as a way to help stimulate design and delivery of digital health solutions that meet priority needs in the fight against TB. The profiles aim to facilitate engagement between system developers and national programmes, policy makers, TB specialists, donors and other partners, to create solutions which are applicable in multiple settings.

"WHO has now convened a group of world-class experts to form a Global Task Force on Digital Health for TB. This team will steer the further development of target profiles in step with the breathless pace of advances in information communication technologies", said Dr Dennis Falzon, Scientist at the WHO Global TB Programme. "This will include work in low-resource settings to show how these digital health approaches can produce impact on TB at large scale".

Details of the presentation at the ERS Congress

  • Session: Lunchtime session e/mHealth, TB and tobacco control
  • Date and time: Tuesday 29 September, 13:00–14:30
  • Room: 7.1

Press Office at ERS Congress in Amsterdam (Saturday 26, September - Wednesday 30, September 2015): Lauren Anderson: +31655467578 or