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TB Persists Due To Lack Of Political Will, Commercial Innovation

Project Syndicate: Why Tuberculosis Persists
Michael Fairbanks, fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University and chair of the Board of Silver Creek Medicines

“…There are three reasons why TB persists: political leaders do not understand the sociology behind it, scientists lack an effective paradigm to attack it, and the rich and famous no longer die from it. … TB once affected every stratum of society, but it now afflicts the most vulnerable populations. … The incidence of drug-resistant TB is on the rise, because the health care systems of poor countries lack the resources to screen for TB and to help patients comply with their therapies. … Political leaders have failed to understand the sociological factors behind TB. … TB afflicts many people who do not vote, such as refugees, prisoners, and the destitute. … Discrimination, stigma, and isolation are not just pernicious features of weak societies; they foster conditions that facilitate TB infections and increase the rate of diffusion. … Unfortunately, commercial innovation is slow to respond to TB. … Some of the most profitable and powerful pharmaceutical companies in the world … have left that ‘market’ behind. … North Americans and Europeans need to … see the end of TB as a challenge to our collective humanity…” (2/23).