Protecting TB patients in Paraguay during COVID-19
The COVID-19 global pandemic has turned access to health care upside down. The obstacles to the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) - financial barriers, universal health care, and difficulty traveling to a clinic - have always existed. Now, as the diversion of existing resources continues and concerns about exposure to the virus remain high, the lives of TB patients are in ever increasing danger.
Recognising the severity and impact of these barriers, the Global Fund's Country Coordination Mechanism of Paraguay convened a meeting on July 07, 2020 at the Ministry of Public Health to find solutions for strengthening and maintaining the stability of TB control, and the installation of a Technical Intersectoral Group on TB.
Hon Pastor Vera of the Paraguay National TB Caucus was among the delegates that discussed the significant impact of the COVID pandemic response on TB detection and diagnosis, such as the designation of TB laboratories for COVID-19 testing. The debilitating effects of such resource diversion carries severe consequences for the maintenance of TB services across the country and makes this year’s TB targets even more difficult to achieve.
The group committed collectively in an official Resolution to safeguard TB services from further damage. A plan was developed which includes tracking and monitoring progress towards the fulfilment of Paraguay’s commitments with regular transparent reporting, mobilising political support and follow up on technical activities, and the development and analysis of a critical path for strengthening the sustainability of the country’s TB diagnostic network.
Hon Pastor Vera will represent the Paraguay National TB Caucus in a permanent seat in the Technical Intersectorial Group, along with other stakeholders from government and civil society, and accountability will be ensured through a coordinated response from different sectors engaged and committed to ending TB in the country, led by the Ministry of Health, with the support of the Head of State.