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Tuberculosis (TB) remains a major global public health problem. In all societies, the disease affects the poorest individuals the worst. A new post-2015 global TB strategy has been developed by WHO, which explicitly highlights the key role of universal health coverage (UHC) and social protection. One of the proposed targets is that “No TB affected families experience catastrophic costs due to TB.” High direct and indirect costs of care hamper access, increase the risk of poor TB treatment outcomes, exacerbate poverty, and contribute to sustaining TB transmission. UHC, conventionally defined as access to health care without risk of financial hardship due to out-of-pocket health care expenditures, is essential but not sufficient for effective and equitable TB care and prevention. Social protection interventions that prevent or mitigate other financial risks associated with TB, including income losses and non-medical expenditures such as on transport and food, are also important. We propose a framework for monitoring both health and social protection coverage, and their impact on TB epidemiology. We describe key indicators and review methodological considerations. We show that while monitoring of general health care access will be important to track the health system environment within which TB services are delivered, specific indicators on TB access, quality, and financial risk protection can also serve as equity-sensitive tracers for progress towards and achievement of overall access and social protection.
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