The Heads of the State or Government of the Member Countries of SAARC at their Fifth Summit held at Male from 22-23 November 1990 decided that SAARC Tuberculosis Centre would be set up in Nepal. Accordingly, consequent upon formulation of rules and regulations it has been functioning since 1994. Since its inception the Centre has taken the challenges of combating the threats of Tuberculosis. Since 2005, the STAC is dealing with both TB and HIV/AIDS in the SAARC Region with new revised mandate.
As one of the Regional Centers of SAARC, the Centre has been working with the vision to support and guide SAARC member states to make the region free of TB and HIV/AIDS by coordinating National Tuberculosis Control Programmes (NTPs) and National HIV/AIDS Control Programmes (NACPs) of the Member States. The Centre has developed and launched the revised SAARC Regional Strategies on; HIV/AIDS (2018-2023), Advocacy, Communication & Social Mobilization- ACSM (2018-2023), Elimination Tuberculosis (2018-2023) and Migration Health on TB and HIV/AIDS (2018-2023).
The priority areas of functioning of the Centre are: policy & strategies, human resource development, researches & surveys, regional level awareness & advocacy, networking with collaborating partners and operational of SAARC Supranational Reference Laboratory for TB and HIV/AIDS, sharing of knowledge, technical documents, best practices and information through its impactful activities. The Centre’s activities are recommended by the Governing Boards and approved by the Programming Committees of SAARC.
In order to End TB, the Governments of Bhutan, India and Maldives have set their targets before the global deadline and Governments of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri-Lanka have also fixed the targets inline the Global target. The COVID19 Pandemic has become a threat and challenges for all national programmes and has impacted the Goal and targets determined under the Strategic Plans. The STAC has initiated some studies to minimize COVID 19’s impact on the programmes, which will provide insight for further initiatives and corrective actions to be taken at the regional and national level.
With voluntary contributions, the Governments of Bangladesh, India and Nepal, the SAARC Regional Reference Laboratory for TB and HIV/AIDS is going to become operational very soon. The aim of this laboratory is to promote scientific research, to build up skilled workforce by useful timely trainings, quality assurance of technologies of SAARC Member States laboratories and to build up an organism bank for future endeavor.
I would also like to sincerely thank and appreciate the support and cooperation provided by the Managers of National TB Programmes and National HIV/AIDS programmes of, Governing Board Members as well as Ministries of Health, Foreign/External Affairs SAARC Member States, SAARC Secretariat and collaborating partners and I strongly believe that the such cooperation and support will continue for future activities and initiatives of the Centre.
Finally, I will be grateful for your valuable suggestions, feedback and guidance that might be helpful to achieve our desired goals.
Dr. Tara Nath Pokhrel