The World Health Organization (WHO) warned Monday that the Western Pacific Region's gains in tuberculosis control over the last decade would be lost unless more financial and technical support are put.

Shin Young-soo, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, said TB control programs in the region face significant challenges. "The TB epidemic tends to concentrate in vulnerable and marginalized populations who have limited access to health care and are difficult to reach." The remarks were made at the Stop TB Technical Advisory Group meeting, which was held here from July 26 to 28 to discuss the draft Regional Strategy to Stop TB in the Western Pacific Region (20112015).

“HIV still poses a major threat and has the potential to reverse the gains achieved by the TB control efforts,” he said.

WHO said countries will need to strengthen early case detection and universal access to quality TB services while maintaining DOTS, directly observed treatments.

Reviewing the progress the Western Pacific region made over the past decade, WHO said, more than 1.3 million patients in the Western Pacific Region are diagnosed with TB and nearly 90 percent of them are successfully treated every year. Due to the successful expansion of quality TB services, the estimated number of prevalent TB patients in the region fell from 3.6 million in 2000 to 2 million in 2008. Fewer patients are also dying from the disease.

The region is working toward the goal of decreasing by half TB prevalence and mortality rates compared with 2000 levels.