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WHO, Global Fund Call For Additional $1.6M A Year To Fight TB In Low-, Middle-Income Countries

“Low and middle-income countries need an additional $1.6 billion a year to fight tuberculosis [TB], threatening progress made against the world’s second-deadliest infectious disease,” the WHO and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said in a joint statement released Monday, Bloomberg reports (Bennett, 3/18). “The projection … underscores the deepening epidemic of drug-resistant TB, the high cost of identifying and treating those complex and difficult cases, and the lack of health funding currently going toward it,” according to the Wall Street Journal (McKay, 3/18). “‘We are treading water at a time when we desperately need to scale up our response,’ said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan,” Agence France-Presse writes, adding, “Global Fund [Executive Director] Mark Dybul also said a funding hike was essential to help identify all new cases of tuberculosis, while simultaneously making progress against existing cases” (Fowler, 3/19).

“The agencies said most of the extra money was needed to step up the accurate diagnosis of TB, and the process of establishing which drugs it may resist,” Reuters writes, adding, “Cash was also needed to improve access to effective medicines” (Kelland/Nebehay, 3/18). “The [organizations said] that without expanded treatment, global gains in fighting the disease ‘can be easily lost,'” according to U.S. News & World Report, which notes, “In recent years, overall tuberculosis incidence has declined, but the bacteria that causes the disease is quickly developing resistance to many of the dozen-or-so drugs used to treat it” (Koebler, 3/18). “The call for an increase in funds for TB comes ahead of World TB Day on 24 March, which … seeks to raise awareness about the global epidemic and efforts to eliminate the disease,” the U.N. News Centre writes (3/18).