Since its inception in 1992, SAARC Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Centre ( STAC) has taken the challenges of combating the threats of Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in the SAARC Region, acting as a regional hub by coordinating National Tuberculosis Control Programmes (NTPs) and National HIV/AIDS Control Programmes (NACPs) of the SAARC Member States.
The Centre has recently updated the SAARC Regional Strategies pertaining to Advocacy, Communication & Social Mobilization (ACSM), SAARC Regional Strategy on HIV and AIDS, and SAARC Regional Strategy on Elimination of Tuberculosis. SAARC Regional Strategy on Migration Health on TB and HIV/AIDS (2018-2023) also developed and lunched. Every year, STAC organizes Training, Workshop, Meeting, on different topics of TB and HIV/AIDS to help Member States to enhance the relevant updated skill and knowledge. STAC also does advocacy & awareness campaign for prevention and Control of TB & HIV/AIDS, conducts operational researches on program gaps on TB & HIV/AIDS, publishes technical document like SAARC Journal of Tuberculosis, Lung Diseases and HIV/AIDS, and disseminates the regional epidemiological information to support NTPs & NACPs of Member States in review and evaluation of their programmes.
STAC has a digitalized library which is a great resource for TB and HIV/AIDS with the updated materials. The centre is also collaborating centre of World Health Organization (WHO) for Training and research on TB and HIV/AIDS .
SAARC TB Reference Laboratory (STRL) has been created under STAC, which already has excellent networking with the Ten National TB Reference Laboratories (NRLs) of Member States under NTP. STRL has supported microscopy network, quality assurance (QA) of NRLs of Member States. In 2003, STRL carried out the first round of QA testing and since then, fifteenth round proficiency testing was finished by 2018. In addition, STRL also offers training for distinct categories of laboratory staff and conducts operational research to create new efficient techniques for early tuberculosis diagnosis and early detection of drug-resistant tuberculosis.
There are two Supranational TB Reference Laboratories in the SAARC region, i.e. National Research Institute for Tuberculosis in Chennai, India, and National Institute of TB and Respiratory Diseases, New Delhi, India. However, given the geographical size, population and burden of TB and TB / HIV co-infection, SAARC Supra-National Reference Laboratory for TB and HIV/AIDS has been established at STAC. The STAC and HLL Infra Tech Services Ltd (HITES), India have recently signed MOU for procurements and installation of equipments. The operation of SAARC Supra-National Reference Laboratory for TB and HIV/AIDS at the STAC may be important tools in the field of TB/HIV diagnosis, quality control and skill development. The aim of this laboratory is to promote scientific research, to build up skilled workforce by useful timely trainings, quality assurances of SAARC Member States laboratories and to build up an organism bank for future endeavor.
I would also like to appreciate the support provided by the Managers of National TB Control Programmes and National HIV/AIDS Control programmes of SAARC Member States. Since the launching of the “SAARC Regional Strategy for Control/Elimination of TB in 2013” remarkable progress has been made in controlling tuberculosis in SAARC Member States. In order to eliminate TB, Member States have set their TB elimination targets such as Maldives has set the deadline of 2020, Bhutan and India have set the target of 2023 and 2025, respectively. Likewise, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri-Lanka have also fixed the targets inline the Global target.
All the updated strategies, guidelines, manuals and technical documents etc. are uploaded in STAC website .I strongly believe that our website will fulfill to provide desired information on TB and HIV/AIDS to the visitors. Further, I believe that this website may also be useful site for scholars and health workers. Finally, I will be grateful for your valuable suggestions, feedback and comments that might be helpful to improve our website.
Dr. Ramesh Kumar Kharel
SAARC TB & HIV/AIDS Centre