The Global Tuberculosis Report 2013, published earlier this week by the World Health Organization (WHO), highlights that more progress and investment is necessary if thousands of people with drug-resistant tuberculosis are to receive the critical drug treatment they need.
The report refers to good progress towards the Millennium Development Goals in some areas, pointing to a 45% reduction in the global TB mortality rate since 1990. However it also outlines the severe lack of progress in others, noting that 50% of 22 recognised high burden countries (HBCs) are very unlikely to sufficiently reduce TB prevalence and mortality in order to meet international targets set for 2015.
Multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB provides a significant challenge. The report states that progress toward diagnosis and treatment of MDR- TB is not yet up to speed and, as the incidence of the drug-resistant (XDR) TB continues to increase, the situation can realistically be termed “a public health crisis.”
The report stresses the need to increase capacity to diagnose MDR-TB in high burden countries. But it states that this increased capacity must be matched with supplies of quality drugs and scaled-up country capacity to deliver effective treatment and care. It outlines the need for high-level political will and more collaboration among partners including drug regulatory authorities, civil society and pharmaceutical organisations.
The need to address MDR-TB as a public health crisis is named as one of five priority actions which also include accelerating uptake of innovations through country-specific operational research.
With only 48% of those diagnosed with MDR-TB in 2010 being treated successfully there is a clear and vital need for more diagnostic tools, medicines and vaccines to be developed. Organisations such as Aeras: The Global TB Vaccine Foundation continue to focus on research and development in this area and suggest that advancing the TB vaccine portfolio in the next 10-15 years could cost less than US $1 billion.
The full report can be accessed below.
Aeras is one of the programmes receiving support from the UK Department for International Development under the series of product development partnership programmes launched earlier this year. Read more about the need for vaccines on the Aeras website.