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Financial Times, Other Media Outlets Highlight Key Issues In Global TB Fight

In recognition of World Tuberculosis Day on Thursday, the Financial Times published a series of stories on TB worldwide.

One article highlights recent achievements in TB diagnosis and drug development. Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO’s Stop TB Department, said, “We are in a situation where I am much more optimistic than one or two years ago.”

But challenges remain, specifically in the areas of money and political leadership. “The impact of financial austerity is threatening progress more broadly, through cuts in healthcare budgets and international donor support that is channelled through bodies such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. … Money also needs to be accompanied by fresh political leadership. The African Leaders’ Malaria Alliance, which has brought together heads of state in recent months to tackle another infectious disease, is a model being eyed by the TB community,” the newspaper writes, noting other challenges, including private sector involvement and maximizing the use of resources (Jack, 3/23).  

“Existing [TB] treatments are frequently of limited effectiveness, long duration, and trigger unpleasant side-effects. They are also often expensive and in short supply, threatening appropriate treatment and risking the development of still more resistant strains,” according to a second article examining the challenges of drug supply, especially for drug-resistant strains (Jack, 3/23).

A third article in the series looks at the unique role nurses play in the fight against TB. “While nurses are always essential in efforts to combat diseases, this is particularly true when it comes to TB. While diagnostic procedures have become simpler and new drugs that shorten the treatment time are becoming available, nurses are the most important link between treatments and the patients receiving them. … Nurses help patients deal not only with the physical effects of the disease and the side-effects of the drugs they are taking, but also to cope with the social stigma attached to TB and the potential loss of income for families with members who have the disease,” the Times reports (Murray, 3/23).

“Scientists are rapidly coming up with new vaccine candidates to supplement and then replace BCG [vaccine], which has for 90 years been the only way of preventing tuberculosis. Several dozen vaccines are at various stages of development, but large amounts of money will be needed to bring the best ones through clinical trials to the market,” according to another article, which looks at a proposal by the nonprofit Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative aimed at raising funds to further TB vaccine development (Cookson, 3/23).

Other articles in the series examine: diagnostics, the use of surgery in some TB cases, new drug development, TB in Romania, and how rural healers in India treat TB.

Also to mark World TB Day, the State Department released a statement from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and USAID issued a statement from Administrator Rajiv Shah.

Media outlets also covered TB-related news in several countries:

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