Today, the global fight to end tuberculosis (TB) and malaria got an important funding boost from the Australian Government with Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, making a five-year and $75 million commitment to Product Development Partnerships (PDP) funding during the CHOGM meetings in London.
Four not-for-profit PDPs working in tuberculosis (TB) and malaria have each been awarded $18.75 million over the period 2018 to 2022 to facilitate the discovery and development of new and better tools to fight these two diseases by bringing together the best of what both the public and private sector have to offer.
“With TB now the world’s leading infectious killer and drug resistant TB on the rise, this funding could not have come at a more critical time,” says Maree Nutt, CEO of anti-poverty and leading TB advocacy group, RESULTS Australia.
“While it was heartening that the world spent $726 million on TB research in 2016, which was a small increase over previous years, at least $2 billion is needed annually to stay on track with the global goal of ending TB by 2030.”
“This announcement is so important because better tools are urgently needed. Current methods of addressing TB mean we miss the global goal by 150 years. Globally, there were 10.4 million cases and 1.7 million deaths in 2016 while another 4.1 million people affected by TB are currently missed by health services,” adds Ms Nutt.
This funding will allow the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) to accelerate the development and adoption of better diagnostic tools and testing protocols for TB and malaria. TB Alliance will use it’s funding to research new TB drugs and treatment regimens, including for drug-resistant TB.
Relatively few new tools have been developed for TB over the past 40 years. However recent investments in TB R&D have already brought about diagnostic tools such as GeneXpert and a shorter treatment regimen for drug resistant TB. Faster diagnosis and shorter treatment times have already changed the lives of many people who have been able to start and then complete treatment.
Work by the TB Alliance has led to identifying shorter and less toxic courses of treatment. This is critical for people with drug resistant TB who currently risk hearing loss, infertility and other serious side effects of medication.
The need to address TB is seen as such a global priority that the UN will convene a High Level Meeting on TB for this September. It will be the most significant political meeting ever held on TB.
Australia can build on today’s significant announcement by ensuring the Prime Minister attends the UN HLM to show that Australia is a leader in the fight to END TB. ”
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