Burnet Institute welcomes the commitment of world leaders at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly to bold new targets and urgent action to end tuberculosis (TB).
The first-ever UN High-Level Meeting on TB has agreed to mobilise US$13 billion annually by 2022 to implement TB prevention and care, and US$2 billion for research.
The Heads of State and government attending also committed to firm action against drug-resistant forms of the disease, build accountability, and prioritise human rights issues such as the stigma that prevails around TB in many parts of the world.
Infectious Diseases Specialist and Co-Head of Burnet’s TB Working Group, Dr Philipp du Cros said the next step is to translate the political commitment into action on the ground.
“The increased funding and commitments from governments are welcome, and the bold targets that have been set about TB elimination,” Dr du Cros said.
“We believe those targets can be achieved, but only if there’s a sense of urgency and accountability.
“In a global emergency you don’t look to one person to solve the problem, it’s about a community response which includes leadership from government.
“So the commitments to the funding are welcome, but we really need to see that in action.”
Dr du Cros said the US$2 billion commitment for research would go some way towards closing the gap to developing new tools that are urgently needed, particularly an effective vaccine.
“We have good tools but not great tools to eliminate TB,” he said.
“We can achieve the targets with the tools that we have, but we won’t achieve them fast enough without new tools.
“A vaccine would be greatly needed, better diagnostic tests linked to the drugs that we’re using now including drug resistant TB, and also a better screening tool for preventive treatment.
“We need to consider also how to research around the best models of care that deliver what’s required in different contexts; how to bring tools to communities in a way that is acceptable and allows rapid scale up.”
The UN Meeting follows the Global Ministerial Conference on Ending TB in Moscow in 2017, which resulted in high-level commitments from nearly 120 countries to accelerate the End TB Response as expressed in the Moscow Declaration to End TB.
TB is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that affect the lungs, and is spread from person to person through the air.
According to the World Health Organization, 10 million people globally contracted TB in 2017 and 1.6 million died from the disease, including 300,000 people with HIV.
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