Image: Dr Suman Majumdar presents 'The Road to Ending Tuberculosis'
A special focus on innovation and research will be needed to realise ambitious global targets to eliminate tuberculosis (TB) as a public health threat, according to Burnet Institute Deputy Program Director (Health Security), Dr Suman Majumdar.
Addressing ‘The Road to Ending Tuberculosis’ at the Institute’s first donor function for 2018, Dr Majumdar said TB, which has caused more deaths than any other infectious disease in human history, remains a global crisis.
“TB is and always has been a global crisis, but it’s been slipping under the radar for some time, and gross neglect, particularly from a medical research perspective, has been a big factor,” Dr Majumdar said.
“It has been a moral and scientific failure, for two reasons; one because the most vulnerable people are affected by this, the poorest and the most disadvantaged.
Image: Burnet Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC addresses the function
“And scientific because we have not invested as a global community in research and development of new tools and ways to diagnose, treat and prevent TB.”
Dr Majumdar referred to the latest World Health Organization data showing that in 2016, 10.4 million people fell ill with TB and 1.7 million people died from the disease, more than 95 percent of them in low- and middle-income countries.
This includes Papua New Guinea, where Burnet is working to address dangerously high rates of drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) in the Western Province town of Daru.
Dr Majumdar said early diagnosis, effective treatments, and prevention measures to stop infection developing into disease are critical.
Image: International Health and Development Specialist (TB) Tope Adepoyibi takes a question from the floor
“At Burnet, we are aiming to work end TB, and that’s a very ambitious task,” he said.
“The way we are doing that is through innovation and research and that needs to be done by working in partnership with communities and governments overseas.
“And to eliminate TB we need to address drug resistant TB as an absolute crisis, because without addressing that we’re not going to get there.”
Find out more about Burnet’s TB research projects, our Health Security program, and Tuberculosis Elimination and Implementation Science Working Group.