The Permanent Mission of South Africa in Geneva, supported by The Union and other NGO partners, brought together United Nations Missions for a briefing on tuberculosis research and innovation
The Permanent Mission of South Africa in Geneva, supported by The Union and other NGO partners, brought together United Nations (UN) Missions for a briefing on tuberculosis (TB) research and innovation on 13 June. Representatives from 11 countries met with scientists, commercial partners and TB survivors to discuss ways to ensure world leaders keep to the vital research and innovation commitments made at the UN High-Level Meeting (HLM) on TB.
The first-ever UN HLM on TB, held last September, marked an important moment towards ending the TB epidemic and saw commitments from world leaders to promote TB research and development (R&D).
Her Excellency Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko, Permanent Representative of South Africa in Geneva, reconfirmed the commitment of her country to end the TB epidemic and South Africa’s efforts to ensure more affordable treatment. She said: "I am a TB survivor. I am evidence that the fight against TB can be won. But we all are concerned about high cost of new diagnostics, even though the volumes procured have increased, the cost of treatment has increased. These increases must not continue."
TB is set to cost the global economy US$ 17 trillion by 2050. The only way to counter this is to invest in research to develop new diagnostics, treatments and a vaccine – tools essential for ending TB. With a current R&D funding gap of US$ 1.3 billion annually, the cost of the needed research could be less than one percent of the total economic burden of the disease.
“We don't have the TB research funding we need, so we must make sure the funding we have is used in most effective way", said Dr Grania Brigden, Deputy Director of The Union’s Department of TB and HIV. Dr Brigden and other speakers shared methods for overcoming the short fallings of current TB R&D, including data sharing, patent pooling, and the need for public funding for R&D to have restrictions that ensure the resulting tools are accessible to those who need it.
"The good news? The TB R&D pipeline is looking better than it has in a long time. There are several new medicines in the pipeline. But what we want is not necessarily a new drug but a new regimen - one that is all-oral, short and affordable." said Esteban Burrone, Head of Policy at Medicines Patent Pool.
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) draft Global Strategy for TB Research and Innovation aims to support efforts by governments and other partners to accelerate research and innovation. By setting clear objectives and priorities for the scientific advances that are needed to end the TB emergency by 2030, the document outlines a framework that could contribute to achieving the commitments made at the HLM.
Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of the Global TB Programme at the WHO said: “Our main goal is to provide all Member States with a framework of interventions to remove barriers in TB research and innovation processes to help achieve the goals and targets of the End TB Strategy. We must align the research and development processes with the cascade of care - we must clearly understand patients’ needs at the outset and ensure results feed back into improvements in care."
“The Way Forward for TB Innovation and Research: One year on from the UN High-Level Meeting” was hosted by the Permanent Mission of South Africa and other International Organisations in Geneva, with the support from The Union, Medicines Patent Pool, Médecins Sans Frontières, the STOP TB Partnership, Treatment Action Group and the South Centre.
Image shows Her Excellency Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko, Permanent Representative of South Africa in Geneva, speaking at the event about the commitment of her country to end the TB epidemic.