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Number Of New TB Infections Fall, But Drug Resistance, Lack Of Funding Could Slow Progress, WHO Reports

“New tuberculosis [TB] infections dropped 2.2 percent worldwide last year, but with nearly nine million new infections, the World Health Organization said TB remains a massive problem that could worsen if countries shortchange funding to fight it,” Reuters reports (Steenhuysen, 10/17). “In a new report issued Wednesday, the U.N. agency estimated there were about 8.7 million new cases of TB last year, down from about 8.8 million in 2010,” and “[t]he number of deaths was unchanged at about 1.4 million — making it the second-leading killer among infectious diseases after AIDS,” the Associated Press writes (Cheng, 10/17). “The number of people becoming ill with tuberculosis has been falling steadily for roughly a decade after a surge in the 1990s,” but “those numbers are still huge, and only 19 percent of those infected with forms of the disease that are resistant to multiple tuberculosis drugs are being diagnosed, the WHO estimated,” according to the Wall Street Journal (McKay, 10/18). BBC News notes the report “warned of ‘persistently slow progress’ in treating tuberculosis which is resistant to antibiotics” (Gallagher, 10/17).

Trial Results Of First New TB Vaccine Candidate In 90 Years Expected Next Year

“Researchers will find out early next year whether the first new vaccine against tuberculosis [TB] for 90 years protects against a disease that was once neglected but is now resurgent worldwide,” Financial Times reports. “Helen McShane, professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, said on Monday that clinical trial results of the MVA85A vaccine — developed in her laboratory over 10 years at a cost of £30 million [$48 million] — would be known in the first quarter of 2013,” the newspaper writes (Cookson, 10/15). “Today, most babies in the world are immunized with the old Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine, first used in 1921,” PlusNews/IRIN writes. “Oxford’s vaccine, known as MVA85A, is designed to boost the effects of BCG,” the news service adds (10/16).

Bureaucracy In India Slowing Treatment Of TB, Wall Street Journal Reports

The Wall Street Journal examines how bureaucracy in India is slowing the treatment of tuberculosis (TB) in the country. The newspaper recounts the story of Rahima Sheikh, “one of 16 patients identified by Mumbai doctors to be resistant to virtually all traditional TB treatments.” The Wall Street Journal writes, “Mumbai officials have publicly pledged free treatment for Mrs. Sheikh and other, similar patients with extreme forms of drug resistance within the city’s jurisdiction,” but “Mrs. Sheikh has now become caught in the bureaucracy of India’s incomplete national network for treating the most virulent TB.”

Revamped South African National AIDS Council Begins Work Reviewing National Plan

South Africa “recently unveiled” a “newly reformed” South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), “coinciding with the announcement that the country has achieved universal access to HIV treatment,” PlusNews reports. Responding to a 2010 review of the body, SANAC “will now hold a new, annual meeting comprised of representatives from the research community, labor unions and people living with HIV,” at which “participants will discuss major policy issues and review progress on the country’s current national plan to address the twin epidemics of HIV and tuberculosis,” according to the news service.

Examining Funding For TB Treatment In Europe

In a BMJ Group Blogs post, Caroline Robinson, global health advocacy manager for Results U.K., discusses the prevalence and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) and drug-resistant TB in Europe and provides the example of Romania. She writes, “[E]vidence brought to light in a new report [.pdf] released recently outlining the effect funding shortages will have on HIV and TB, including drug-resistant TB, in the European region suggests that Romania does not have the institutional capacity to ensure its citizens have the basic right to health. The country relies on grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which look set to end in 2013.” She continues, “[Global Fund] Board members should ensure that middle-income countries with epidemics among key populations can access critical Global Fund contributions and the E.U. and its member states must continue to provide the resources the fund requires to meet demand. Unless such support is given, countries like Romania will continue to fall further down the league tables in terms of treatment for this curable disease” (10/10).

Southern African Leaders Sign Declaration On TB In Mining Sector

“In an attempt to tackle tuberculosis [TB] among current and former miners, their families, and affected communities, 15 southern African leaders signed a Declaration on TB in the Mining Sector, a legal instrument, at the recent summit meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State and Government in Maputo, Mozambique,” the Lancet reports. “The declaration is to ensure commitment and accountability by member states to improve the lives of those affected by tuberculosis,” the journal writes, adding, “A code of conduct, to accompany the declaration, will be signed by the region’s health ministers next month.”

U.S. Investment In Global Health Saves Lives

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reflects on changes in U.S. global health diplomacy since taking office in this Global Health and Diplomacy opinion piece. “America had been leading the global health fight for decades,” but “we recognized that to sustain the impact of our work, we needed to change the way we did business,” she writes. “For example, while our agencies were providing tremendous leadership in isolation, they could still do more to collaborate effectively,” she writes, adding, “[W]e weren’t doing enough to coordinate our efforts with other donors or our partner countries,” and “we weren’t building sustainable systems to eventually allow our partner countries to manage more of their own health needs.” She says, “We were unintentionally putting a ceiling on the number of lives we could save.”

Forbes Features Interview With President Of Friends Of Global Fight

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).

Sufficient Resources Needed To Maintain Progress Against AIDS, TB, Malaria

“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!”

'Big Push' Needed To Ensure Political Will Necessary To Maintain Progress Against AIDS, TB, Malaria

“[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.

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