Health officials from India and the WHO are scheduled to meet in Mumbai on Tuesday to discuss how to manage the cases of at least 12 patients infected with a highly drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) strain, Bloomberg reports (Narayan, 1/17). “The ‘totally drug-resistant’ tuberculosis (TDR-TB) reportedly emerging in India is actually an advanced stage of drug-resistant TB, which researchers called totally drug-resistant for lack of a better term,” IRIN notes (1/17).
This post in the Foreign Policy Association blog discusses reports from earlier this month of “an emerging strain of ‘totally drug-resistant’ tuberculosis (TDR-TB)” in India, which the Indian government last week denied, “arguing that the 12 cases were in fact extensively drug resistant (XDR).” The blog states, “Whether or not it’s fair to use the TDR moniker, drug resistance is a serious, emerging issue that may very well define the next stage of global health,” concluding, “We are reaching a turning point, one at which some drug resistant pathogens are on the cusp of shifting from a handful of cases, an endemic, to a bigger, epidemic or even pandemic problem. Now is the time to initiate discussions on what the global community will do to stem drug resistance” (Robinson, 1/21).
A funding shortfall led the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to announce in November that “it won’t make any grants to fund programs for at least two years,” a Deseret News editorial notes and calls on the U.S. to take a leadership position in saving the fund. The editorial states, “Few worldwide initiatives have the success record of the Global Fund …, but those breakthroughs may not have much chance to save many lives,” and notes that the non-profit lobbying group “Results is calling for the Obama administration to assemble an emergency meeting of donor nations this spring to find ways to ensure that the fund and its programs are able to continue and to provide new medicines where they are needed most.”
In this post in Global Health Frontline News’ “Notes From the Field” blog, Kevin Cain, chief of the tuberculosis (TB) branch for a research and public health collaboration between the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and the CDC in Kisumu, Kenya, reports on TB research underway as part of the collaboration. Cain highlights several current research initiatives in Kisumu and concludes, “The world cannot afford another phase of neglect. We know by partnering with governments as well as affected communities in innovative ways more progress can be made improving programs and the tools available for diagnosing, treating, and preventing TB, and lives will be saved” (1/20).
“This week, heads of state, celebrities and CEOs will attend U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s ‘Every Woman, Every Child’ dinner in New York,” an event that “will highlight the amazing contribution of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to the health of women and children in developing countries,” Lucy Chesire, executive director and secretary to the board of TB ACTION Group, writes in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. “Ten years ago, tackling HIV, tuberculosis [TB] and malaria seemed an almost impossible task. Today we can see the beginning of the end of these three killer diseases,” she continues, adding, “But to make these historic achievements possible we need sufficient resources available!”
Forbes features an interview with Deborah Derrick, president of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, in which she “discusse[s] her motivations for pursuing a career in international affairs and social change, her experience as a senior program officer at the [Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation], what lessons she learned during her time at Gates that are most applicable in her new executive role at Friends of the Global Fight, the current landscape of challenges and solutions, and the role of technology in accelerating progress.” In the interview, Derrick said, “The mobilization to defeat these diseases in the past decade has been stunningly successful. … But there is so much more that needs to be done. If we don’t muster the resources to keep up the fight, and all commit to doing our part in a time of constrained resources, we risk backsliding on the progress we’ve already invested in” (Kanani, 9/21).
“[W]hat will the day be like when we finally defeat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria?” Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, asks in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. “[W]ith the launch today of The Big Push campaign — co-sponsored by the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] and the Huffington Post — this might be more than a thought exercise … because the progress that’s been made against these diseases in only the last 10 years has been so staggering that we may actually be in sight of the day when no child is born with HIV, nobody dies of malaria and we stop the spread of tuberculosis,” she continues and provides some statistics.
“[O]ver the past month, [tuberculosis (TB)] has captured high-profile attention from the Washington Post, the New York Times, TIME, NPR, [Agence France-Presse] and other major media, generating big headlines about the rising challenge we face in tackling one of humanity’s oldest and most resilient infectious diseases,” Jan Gheuens, interim director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s TB Program, writes in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. “Why should we be concerned?” he asks. Gheuens says because the worldwide number of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) cases is growing; “it costs a lot of money to treat MDR-TB”; and “MDR-TB patients must go through two years of intensive treatment, including daily injections for the first six months.” He concludes, “What’s clear now, more than ever, is that making progress on TB will require a comprehensive approach that includes new and better approaches to diagnosis, treatment, and prevention” (9/6).
This post in the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ “Smart Global Health” blog examines drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), stating, “[S]ince the recent outbreak of the so-called totally drug-resistant tuberculosis (TDR-TB) in India, TB has a new face.” The blog details what TDR-TB is, recaps how resistant strains of TB develop and suggests several ways in which the global health community should respond (Kramer, 1/25).
In this post in the PLoS “Speaking of Medicine” blog, guest blogger Christian Lienhardt, senior scientific adviser at the Stop TB Partnership and WHO, “discusses the International Roadmap for Tuberculosis (TB) Research, a framework outlining priority areas for investment in TB research.” He writes, “The tools available for TB control are old, lack effectiveness, and are not readily accessible in many settings,” adding, “Fortunately there is hope, thanks to notable progress in the development of new tools for TB control over the last decade,” such as “the recent introduction of Xpert MTB/RIF — a DNA-based molecular assay that can diagnose TB and the presence of rifampicin-resistance in 100 minutes” (1/26).