Tuberculosis is one of the leading causes of death in the world with an estimated 1.6 million deaths in 2017 according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Each of the countries present at this workshop experienced various strategies in the fight against TB. They have developed their own experiences and practices that can enable them to intensify the screening of tuberculosis cases with varying results. However, an important problem remains because these countries have very little opportunity to share their successful or unsuccessful experiences and learn from each other. In the sub-region, there is little exchange between programme actors, partners and civil society actors involved in the fight against tuberculosis.
It is in this context that the meeting was initiated to enable key actors in the fight against tuberculosis to exchange, discuss, share and plan the implementation of best practices for the detection and treatment of tuberculosis cases. During the meeting, a peer learning opportunity was provided to TB stakeholders in the countries concerned. These actors had the opportunity to learn from others about the ways and means to address the challenges of tuberculosis screening and treatment.
At the ceremony that launched the present work, the Resident Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Benin, Dr Jean-Pierre Baptiste, thanked the Ministry of Health; the National Tuberculosis Programme (NTP), the National Coordination Authority for projects funded by the Global Fund (INC), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (WHO/TDR) in Geneva, for facilitating the organisation of the present workshop. Like Ms. Olive Momb Gannaso and the representative of the Global Tuberculosis Fund, Mr. Baptiste acknowledged the relevance of the current meeting. For this reason, he urged participants to follow with interest and commitment the theoretical presentations, discussions and group work that will be presented to them to help translate the lessons and experiences received during this workshop into concrete results to improve the quality of national data. In his words, since 2015, WHO/TDR has been supporting a regional initiative to stimulate, improve and strengthen research on tuberculosis in 16 West African countries. Finally, he reassured the Assembly about WHO’s continued support for the improvement of tuberculosis screening, research and treatment of tuberculosis cases in Benin and the effective implementation of the recommendations that will result from the present meeting. The Director of Cabinet of the Ministry of Health, Dr Lucien Toko, opened the meeting and welcomed the holding of this workshop in Benin. For him, improving the living conditions of the population is a cornerstone of the Beninese Government’s Policy Agenda. This workshop, for him, reinforces the actions that the current regime is already taking to achieve the objectives in this context. On behalf of the Government, he thanked WHO, which had recently honoured Benin by raising the country’s Tuberculosis Laboratory to the level of supranational Laboratory, the first in the subregion. He then called for other partners to support Benin in order to effectively carry out the mission assigned to this laboratory. In his words of thanks, he hailed the Global Fund’s efforts for supporting countries in the fight against tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria.