Speaker: Isaac Chikwanha
Tuberculosis is the leading infectious disease killer today. However, the current global response is failing people with TB and failing to curb the epidemic. TB is a global health emergency.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) witnesses first-hand these failures to properly test and treat TB, especially drug-resistant TB (DR-TB). We welcome the plan to hold a UN High Level Meeting (UN HLM) on tuberculosis, and call for a rapid acceleration of scale-up towards the global End TB Targets. We are well behind in achieving these goals.
MSF requests the Executive Board to call for three critical outcomes of the UN HLM:
- Countries committing to time-bound, ambitious, and measurable national testing, treatment, and prevention targets. Targets should include the number of people reached as well as adoption and implementation of WHO guidelines on TB testing, treatment, and prevention. Targets should include annual increases in DR-TB treatment coverage using newer more effective drugs, which in 2016 was at unacceptable 5% of the estimated need.
- Support for public health-driven TB research and development (R&D). The 2016 WHO report on the End TB Strategy warned that today’s tools to tackle TB are insufficient to achieve the targets. Governments must commit to significant financial investment in R&D for better diagnostics and drug regimens, and ensure equitable access, particularly for products of publicly-funded R&D. Given the need for regimen development combining different drugs, it will be critical to foster a transparent R&D framework that promotes needs-driven priority setting, data sharing, collaborative research and intellectual property pooling as essential components.
- An accountability and review mechanism defining clear, country specific deliverables. The High-Level meeting should reconvene regularly to assess country progress towards the End TB strategic targets.
This is a critical moment for change. TB incidence and mortality have not decreased at the rate expected. The global response is failing and we must take steps now to reverse these trends and improve outcomes for people with TB worldwide.
How is it possible...
...that we sent people to the moon almost 50 years ago, yet millions of people with tuberculosis are still treated with old, inadequate medicines?