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Researchers call for more efforts to tackle TB

Governments and research funders must step up efforts to find, diagnose and treat tuberculosis, leading clinicians and researchers around the world have said in a series of journal articles co-ordinated by UCLH consultant infectious disease physician, and NIHR-BRC senior investigator, Sir Alimuddin (‘Ali’) Zumla.

For World TB Day on 24 March – which this year has the broad theme ‘It’s time’ – Sir Ali edited a special edition of The International Journal of Infectious Diseases, in which contributors said government and research funders need to increase funding for research and innovation and for new and improved diagnostic, treatment and prevention tools.

In an editorial co-written with Professor Eskild Petersen of Aarhus University in Denmark, Sir Ali said: “These articles…illustrate vividly that ‘It’s Time’ for governments and donors to keep the promises made in the political declaration at the [UN High-Level Meeting] and to increase the much-needed resources to find, diagnose and treat 40 million adults and children who will be affected by TB by 2022, and to conduct research on new diagnostics, treatments and vaccines required to achieve global TB control.”

In a separate comment article published in The Lancet Global Health, Sir Ali and colleagues said governments, international agencies, research funders and others must follow through on funding and other commitments made at the first ever UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on TB in September 2018. The comment was one of a series of six articles on TB led by Sir Ali for World TB Day which were published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, The Lancet Respiratory Medicine and The Lancet Global Health.

TB is the world’s number one cause of death from an infectious disease. In 2017, an estimated 10 million people (including 1 million children) developed TB, and an estimated further 4 million people have undiagnosed and untreated TB.

In 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that efforts were not on target to achieve the WHO goal of ending the global TB epidemic by 2035 – defined as bringing down the global incidence of TB from more than 1,000 per million people worldwide to less than 100 per million.

World TB Day is celebrated every year on 24 March – the day in 1882 when Professor Robert Koch first announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of TB.

The theme for World TB Day this year – ‘It’s time’ – is intentionally broad, meaning: time to improve access to treatment; time to increase funding for research; time to end stigma and discrimination, and more.


Further reading

International Journal of Infectious Diseases, March 2019 Supplement – edited by Sir Ali

Articles co-written by Sir Ali and published in specialty journals of The Lancet:

McHugh TD, Honeyborne I, Lipman M, Zumla A. Revolutionary new treatment regimens for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2019 Mar;19(3):233-234

Petersen E, Chakaya J, Jawad FM, Ippolito G, Zumla A. Latent tuberculosis infection: diagnostic tests and when to treat. Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2019 Mar;19(3):231-233

Abubakar I, Chakaya J, Maeurer M, Zumla A. Towards optimal treatment for latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Lancet Respiratory Medicine. 2019 Mar;7(3):195-197

Meremikwu M, Zumla A. Isoniazid preventive therapy for children in sub-Saharan Africa. Lancet Respiratory Medicine. 2019 Mar;7(3):197-199

Sunvanand S, Ditiu L, Zumla A. after UNZA High level meeting on Tuberculosis- what next and how? Lancet Global Health: 2019: March 12, 2019