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‘Global Pulse’ Blog Examines Declining TB Incidence In Estonia

In this post in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog, journalist John Donnelly reports on tuberculosis (TB) in Estonia and how the country has significantly reduced the proportion of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) cases since 1998. He writes, “The numbers of new TB cases in Estonia were five times that of the Nordic countries in 1998, but the numbers have tumbled since then and last year Estonia had cut that in half, to 2.5 times the number.” MDR-TB still represents 22 percent of all TB cases, but several factors — including “a decision by government leaders to fully fund anti-TB efforts; banning sale of TB drugs in pharmacies in order to cut down on misuse; annual training of all TB medical staff by international experts; and the country ensured it would have enough of the scarce drugs needed to fight MDR-TB” — have helped bring down the numbers, he reports. Donnelly is reporting independently on a trip made through the Philippines, Estonia, and Peru with photographer Riccardo Venturi “at the invitation of the Japanese company Otsuka Pharmaceutical to look at the human impact of TB” (12/20).

Global Fund Board Must ‘Sound Alarm’ To Renew Funding Commitments

In an opinion piece on the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) website, MSF International President Unni Karunakara writes that with the cancellation of the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s Round 11 grants, “The Board of the Global Fund must raise the alarm. Instead of accepting rationing, and cancelling ambitions, we…

Central African Republic In State Of ‘Chronic Medical Emergency,’ MSF Report Says

“The Central African Republic (CAR) is in the grips of a chronic medical emergency, according to a report released today by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF),” an MSF press release states. “Four mortality studies carried out by MSF over the past 18 months reveal crude mortality rates in some regions of CAR at three times the emergency threshold of one death per 10,000 people per day, which, according to the World Health Organization, is considered a humanitarian crisis,” the press release adds (12/13).

Global Fund Official Delivers Speech At ICASA Closing Plenary Session

The 16th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) ended on Thursday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where “the final plenary session … left the audience with a notion of hope and urgency that despite the Global Fund’s cancellation of Round 11 disbursements, the organization will continue to campaign, raise funds and place pressure on governments in both the donor and recipient arenas,” an ICASA news article reports (12/8). Speaking at the session, “Global Fund Deputy Executive Director Debrework Zewdie felt compelled to reassure those benefiting from the fund,” saying, “‘Everyone who is on treatment funded by the Global Fund will stay on treatment,'” according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C (Frentzen/Waswa, 12/8).

South African President Introduces National Strategic Plan On HIV, STIs, TB

South African President Jacob Zuma in a speech on Thursday to mark World AIDS Day introduced a new five-year National Strategic Plan (.pdf) on HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and tuberculosis (TB), which “calls for stepped-up prevention efforts to halve new infections of HIV and tuberculosis by 2016 and to put 80 percent of eligible patients on antiretroviral drugs to fight AIDS,” Agence France-Presse reports (12/1). In addition, the plan aims to reduce the number of mother-to-child HIV transmission cases, which Zuma noted was halved between 2008 and 2010, reduce HIV- and TB-related stigma, target high-risk populations, and promote education among youth to reduce their risk of HIV infection, according to Times Live (Chauke/Mclea, 12/2).

Product Development Partnerships ‘Essential’ In Fight Against Global Diseases

“If the momentum gained in the last few years” in fighting global diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis (TB), malaria, measles, and meningitis “is any indicator of our future trajectory, we are standing on the threshold of a revolutionary change in the state of global health,” Wendy Taylor, senior adviser of Innovative Finance and Public Private Partnerships at USAID, and David Cook, executive vice president and COO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), write in this opinion piece in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” They discuss the importance of “Product Development Partnerships, or PDPs for short,” which “are great examples of public-private collaborations [that] are starting to build deep pipelines for new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostic tools.”

TB Research Movement Formed To Drive Progress

Christian Lienhardt of the Stop TB Partnership and colleagues examine the research necessary to stop tuberculosis (TB) and introduce the TB Research Movement, which aims to “boos[t] TB research and accelerat[e] progress in TB control towards international targets,” in this PLoS Medicine article. The authors “describe the development of the Research Movement…

Efforts To End AIDS Could Also Reduce TB Burden With Proper Funding

In response to Michael Gerson’s November 11 column in which he said the end of AIDS is possible because of combination prevention and treatment innovations, David Bryden, the Stop TB advocacy officer at RESULTS, writes in a Washington Post letter to the editor, “Another benefit of [HIV] treatment is that it sharply reduces deaths from tuberculosis [TB], which is the primary killer of people living with HIV/AIDS.” He says that “to fully succeed in Africa, where TB and HIV/AIDS are often two sides of the same coin, we have to quickly identify people who have TB or who are vulnerable to it and get them the services they need,” which also means developing an accurate quick test for the disease.

New Collaboration Enables Information Sharing To Aid In Development Of TB Drug Candidates

In this post in the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog, Heather Ignatius, senior policy manager for the TB Alliance, writes that while “[t]he most recent WHO TB Control report noted that rates of [tuberculosis (TB)] declined this past year for the first time in decades, … TB remains one of…