The first annual meeting of WARN-TB’s National Tuberculosis Program Coordinators

he first annual meeting of WARN-TB’s National Tuberculosis Program Coordinators took place from the 20th to the 21st of October 2016 in Cotonou, Benin Marina Hotel (BMH). The purpose of this meeting was to take stock of the network’s activities since its creation and to define the next steps. It lasted two days and was attended by all 15 ECOWAS countries and Mauritania. Countries were represented by their National Tuberculosis Programme (NTP) coordinators or their closest collaborators.

The opening ceremony was presided over by Benin’s Minister of Health, Dr Alassane SEIDOU, who in his speech congratulated the coordinators of tuberculosis control programmes for this unifying initiative. He did not fail to thank the Director General of The West African Health Organization (WAHO) and all his staff for their constant involvement and support in solving health problems in the West African sub-region. It should also be noted that the Resident Representative of the World Health Organization in Benin (WHO/Benin) and some partners, in particular the Global Fund, the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, the Damien Foundation, WHO/TDR, were present.

The first day’s work began with the presentation of the WARN-TB annual report. In his presentation, the Executive Secretary of WARN-TB reviewed the achievements of the network. We can mention among others:

– At the programmatic level: organization of two workshops on strengthening tuberculosis surveillance in West Africa. Both workshops were funded by the Global Fund.

– On the operational research level: organization of modules 1 & 2 of a 4 module training on operational research (WHO/TDR funding).

– In terms of advocacy: meeting in Ouagadougou with the management of the West African Health Organization in February 2016; Participation of the WARN-TB Executive Secretariat in the ECOWAS Assembly of Ministers of Health in Bissau in April 2016.

– Other activities: development of the network logo.

The Executive Secretary also reviewed the challenges and areas for improvement in the network. After this presentation, participants commented on the activities and proposed solution approaches to improve the vitality of the network.

In subsequent presentations, countries reviewed their current situation with regard to tuberculosis, highlighting the progress made since the network’s inception. From these presentations, it can be seen that all countries have set up their TB taskforces and that activities have started. Some countries such as Burkina Faso have already succeeded in writing their research agendas.

The first day was completed after the presentation by the representative of the Regional Green Light Committee (rGLC). From this presentation, it can be noted that the main mission of the rGLC is to support and assist countries in the implementation of a good system for the management of MDR-TB (Multidrug-resistant Tuberculosis) patients, including the implementation of the short 9-month regime.

The second day was furnished with various presentations and discussions on the following points:

– Sharing of experience and exchanges on operational research projects being implemented in some countries

– Presentation by the various partners present on their activities and the support they can provide to WARN-TB in the coming years; these include the following partners: West African Health Organization, Global Fund, WHO/TDR, Damien Foundation.

– The working groups set up, namely:

(i) Management of cross-border tuberculosis;

(ii) TB and legislation;

(iii) TB and emergencies (Ebola, Lassa, natural disasters);

(iv) TB epidemiological surveillance and data management.

The activities of these working groups were reviewed and ways to improve them were identified.

During the last session of the second day, the next steps to be taken by the network were discussed.

At the end of the meeting, all participants expressed their satisfaction with the quality of the discussions and the recommendations, which, if rigorously implemented, will allow the network to develop rapidly. The participants also thanked WAHO for its involvement in organizing the meeting and facilitating this important network in our sub-region.


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