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Opinions: Fighting TB; Currency Transaction Tax

Innovation, Coordination Needed To ‘Bring TB Research Into The 21st Century’

Though tuberculosis “is one of the world’s leading killers … few citizens, scientists and policymakers are demanding more attention to TB research, treatment and prevention. … It’s time to bring TB research into the 21st century,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, writes in an MSNBC opinion piece.

As a result of the “high incidence of TB in HIV-infected individuals” and the “emergence and spread of drug-resistant forms of the disease … We are beginning to see the winds of change, but what we really need is a storm,” according to Fauci. “It is imperative that we transform the way we diagnose, treat, prevent, and control TB – through biomedical research and public health measures – to the same extent that we have done and will continue to do with HIV/AIDS.” He highlights the challenges facing TB treatment and outlines what types of improvements are needed to control the disease.

“The U.S. government and National Institutes of Health in particular have been longtime supporters of TB research. Other organizations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have stepped up to the plate with enthusiasm. But we have much catching up to do, and the TB research effort will require a sustained and long-term commitment from government, academia, industry and philanthropy,” Fauci writes. “As we move forward, applying new technologies and coordinating multiple efforts, it is critical to question the usual assumptions that have driven the field of TB research, and think in new and innovative ways, employing all the modern tools of biomedical research. Only by doing so, can we develop the transforming innovations that are needed to end the global TB pandemic,” he concludes (11/17).

Currency Transaction Tax Could Help Fill Aid Shortfalls 

It is “quite regrettable” that the G20 “hardly even discussed” the prospect of implementing “a tax of just 0.005 percent on currency exchanges,” which could “help wealthy nations dramatically step up their development aid without hampering the still-fragile global economy,” Joanne Carter – a board member of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – writes in an Atlanta Journal Constitution opinion piece. “A [currency transaction levy (CTL)] could help meet these challenges and guarantee greater progress toward the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals,” according to Carter. She notes that the proposed tax “is small enough that it would have practically no negative effect on global economic growth. And since the currency exchange market is already completely computerized, the levy could be collected electronically, making implementation logistically painless.”

According to Carter, “[t]he levy could also help address the funding shortfall faced by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” which “will need to raise $30 billion in the next year to keep up with the demand for aid.” She adds, “It’s important to note that the CTL wouldn’t be an alternative to state-sponsored aid, but rather a healthy supplement.”

“The problems afflicting the developing world are as severe as they are numerous,” she writes. “If G-20 leaders are going to meet their moral obligation to these countries, they will need to start deploying bold new strategies. By failing to even consider the CTL in September, they missed one of their greatest opportunities to do so,” she concludes (11/17).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.