A new operational handbook on tuberculosis (TB) infection prevention and control is now available from the World Health Organization (WHO), providing practical advice to complement its evidence-based guidelines.
The operational handbook will facilitate country adaptation and implementation of TB infection prevention and control measures. It emphasizes the importance of building integrated, well-coordinated, multisectoral actions across all levels of health care and other settings having high risk of TB transmission.
“Investment in preventive action, like TB infection prevention and control, will help to cut the chain of transmission not only in health care facilities, congregate settings, or workplaces but also the households of people with TB. This is vitally important in our collective fight to end TB”.Dr. Tereza Kasaeva, Director of the WHO’s Global TB Programme
The handbook includes best practices from countries and provides checklists and job aids to support the implementation and monitoring of actions for administrative, environmental, and respiratory protection measures.
Apart from health facilities, these measures may also apply to congregate settings having a high risk of TB transmission, such as prisons, refugee camps, and long term care facilities.
Tuberculosis continues to be a major public health concern and one of the leading causes of
death from a single infectious microorganism at the global level. Although recent decades have
witnessed increased efforts in the fight to end TB, there are still fundamental systemic gaps, particularly in resource-constrained settings and places with a high TB burden. The WHO estimates that about 74 million TB deaths were averted between 2000 and 2021 because of global TB prevention and care efforts. However, about 10.6 million people fell ill with TB in 2021 alone and 1.6 million people died of TB in that year.
Although TB can affect everyone, specific population groups have a higher risk of acquiring TB
infection or progressing to TB disease once infected. These vulnerable populations include
people living with HIV, health care workers, and children and individuals in congregate settings. The difficulty and high cost of managing TB disease, especially its drug-resistant forms, both to the individual and to the community, underlines the importance of preventing transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis within health care facilities, congregate settings, workplaces and the households of TB patients.
To achieve the global targets and end the TB epidemic, it is vital to break the chain of M. tuberculosis transmission; this requires rapid identification of individuals who have TB disease, prompt treatment and preventive treatment of those at risk, limiting exposure to individuals who may transmit M. tuberculosis and reducing the concentration of infectious particles in the ambient air.
WHO Operational Handbook on Tuberculosis: Infection Prevention and Control. World Health Organization, 31 August 2023.