Stop TB Partnership Launches Global Plan To Stop TB 2011-2015

The WHO’s Stop TB Partnership “laid out a new plan [.pdf] on Wednesday to combat tuberculosis and the nearly 2 million deaths it causes each year,” Reuters reports (Herskovitz, 10/13).

The new Global Plan to Stop TB 2011-2015 “for the first time identifies all the research gaps that need to be filled to bring rapid TB tests, faster treatment regimens and a fully effective vaccine to market,” a WHO press release states. The plan also provides a strategy aimed at expanding TB care, modernizing diagnostic laboratories and adopting new TB tests for public health programs.

The new plan “sets a research agenda aimed at engendering two new ‘while-you-wait’ rapid tests that trained staff at even the most basic health outposts can use to diagnose TB accurately,” according to the release. The plan also aims to get “three new drug regimens – one for drug-sensitive TB and two for drug-resistant TB” – to Phase III clinical trials by 2015. To address drug-resistant TB, it “calls for 7 million people to be tested for multidrug-resistant TB” and says one million confirmed MDR-TB cases should be “treated according to international standards over the next five years,” the press release notes.  

The plan aims to have all TB patients tested for HIV by the end of 2015. Those who are diagnosed with HIV should “receive anti-retroviral drugs and other appropriate HIV care. In HIV treatment settings, all patients will be screened for TB and receive appropriate preventive therapy or treatment as needed,” the release explains (10/13).

Reuters reports that currently, about a quarter of HIV patients are tested for TB, which “is a leading killer of those infected with HIV. Health experts fear the disease could deal a disastrous blow to sub-Saharan Africa, the hardest-hit region in the global AIDS epidemic” (10/13).

The estimated cost of the plan is $37 billion and an additional $10 billion will be required “for research to develop a vaccine, new medications and more effective testing,” Agence France-Presse reports (10/13). “A funding gap of about $14 billion – approximately $2.8 billion per year – [remains] and needs to be filled by international donors,” according to the press release (10/13).  

“The stakes are high: without rapid scale-up of TB prevention and treatment, some 10 million people will die of a curable disease by 2015,” said Marcos Espinal, the executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, Reuters writes (10/13).

Symposium In Cameroon Focuses On TB Treatment

VOA News reports on a symposium in Cameroon this week to discuss new medical treatments for TB. The Novartis Institute is sponsoring the gathering.

There are several reasons why TB is growing problem in some parts of the world, said Paul Herrling of Novartis. “The first one is that the last medicines that we had for TB are about 40 years old,” he said. “And one thing that people did not know at that time, is that this is a very, very clever bacteria – like many others. And when they are treated with the same medicines for a long time, they learn to escape it.”

Herrling also focused on the need for scientists to understand patients’ culture and environment. “[S]o very often our scientists, they live in laboratories working on TB sitting in Harvard or in London, and they have no clue as to what the disease really is. And on the other hand, local doctors here have no access to the most modern science,” he said (Shryock, 10/12).

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