Wednesday November 13, 2019

Tuberculosis To Stay on Top in The List of World’s Most Infectious Diseases: WHO

Treatment coverage, at 64 percent, also lags behind and must increase to at least 90 percent by 2025 to meet the targets of ending TB by 2030

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WHO
WHO vows tighter, broader action against tobacco, industry interference.

Tuberculosis (TB) remains the world’s deadliest infectious disease although global efforts have averted an estimated 54 million tuberculosis (TB) deaths since 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday.

WHO, in its latest 2018 Global TB Report, says countries are still not doing enough to end TB by 2030 and calls for an unprecedented mobilization of national and international commitments. It urges for decisive action from nearly 50 heads of state and government who are expected to gather next week for the first-ever UN High-level Meeting on TB, Xinhua news agency reported.

The report finds that overall, TB deaths have decreased over the past year, with an estimated 10 million people having developed TB and 1.6 million deaths, including among 300,000 HIV-positive people, in 2017. The number of new cases is falling by two percent per year.

However, underreporting and under-diagnosis of TB cases remains a major challenge. Of the 10 million people who fell ill with TB in 2017, only 6.4 million were officially recorded by national reporting systems, leaving 3.6 million people undiagnosed, or detected but not reported.

Ten countries accounted for 80 percent of this gap, according to the report, with India, Indonesia and Nigeria topping the list. Less than half of the estimated one million children with TB were reported in 2017, making it a much higher gap in detection than that in adults.

Treatment coverage, at 64 percent, also lags behind and must increase to at least 90 percent by 2025 to meet the targets of ending TB by 2030.

To urgently improve detection, diagnosis and treatment rates, the WHO and partners launched a new initiative in 2018 to set the target of providing quality care to 40 million people with TB from 2018 to 2022, while predicting that at least 30 million people should be able to access TB preventive treatment during the period.

The WHO strongly recommends preventive treatment for people living with HIV, and children under five years living in households with TB, and has issued related new guidance this year to facilitate greater access to preventive services for those who need it.

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Next week’s UN High-Level Meeting on TB is critical and the WHO, while calling for the health sector to address the risk factors and determinants of the disease, is particularly pushing for commitments at the level of heads of state to galvanize multi-sectoral action.

“We have never seen such high-level political attention and understanding of what the world needs to do to end TB and drug-resistant TB,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“We must ensure that we hold our leaders accountable for the actions they promise to take. And we must hold ourselves accountable for keeping the pressure on.” (IANS)

Next Story

New Tuberculosis Treatment for 150 Countries Including India and South Africa to Cost $1,040

BPaL is an oral treatment which promises a shorter, more convenient option to existing TB treatment options, which use a cocktail of antibiotic drugs

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Tuberculosis, Treatment, Countries
A tuberculosis patient receives treatment at the TB Hospital in Gauhati, India, March 24, 2012. VOA

A newly approved three-drug treatment for tuberculosis will be available in 150 countries including India and South Africa, priced at $1,040 for a complete regimen, more than twice the cost proposed in the past by advocacy groups for other treatments.

The United Nations-backed Stop TB Partnership said on Monday that BPaL would be obtainable in eligible countries through the Global Drug Facility (GDF), a global provider of TB medicines created in 2001 to negotiate lower prices for treatments.

Tuberculosis was responsible for 1.5 million deaths in 2018.

BPaL is an oral treatment which promises a shorter, more convenient option to existing TB treatment options, which use a cocktail of antibiotic drugs over a period of up to two years.

Tuberculosis, Treatment, Countries
The United Nations-backed Stop TB Partnership said on Monday that BPaL would be obtainable in eligible countries through the Global Drug Facility (GDF), a global provider. Pixabay

The new cocktail, which will treat extensively drug-resistant strains of the illness, consists of drug developer TB Alliance’s newly-approved medicine pretomanid, in combination with linezolid and Johnson & Johnson’s bedaquiline.

Pretomanid, which will be available at $364 per treatment course, is only the third new medicine for drug-resistant tuberculosis to be approved in about 40 years, after J&J’s bedaquiline and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co Ltd’s delamanid.

Criticism

Advocacy groups have long criticized the cost for bedaquiline and delamanid. Not-for-profit Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has waged a running battle in public with J&J over its $400 price tag for a six-month course for bedaquiline.

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MSF has argued that bedaquiline could be produced and sold at a profit for 25 cents per day, and that the price of treatments for drug-resistant TB should be no higher than $500 for a complete treatment course.

Leena Menghaney, the South-Asia head for MSF’s Access Campaign, said it was a cause of concern that pretomanid was priced just below the price of bedaquiline.

But Stop TB Partnership says costs of other regimens for extremely drug-resistant TB range from $2,000 to $8,000 — for courses of at least 20 months.

Drugmakers

Tuberculosis, Treatment, Countries
Tuberculosis was responsible for 1.5 million deaths in 2018. Pixabay

TB Alliance in April granted a license to U.S. drugmaker Mylan NV to manufacture and sell pretomanid as part of certain regimens in high-income markets, as well as a non-exclusive license for low-income and middle-income countries, where most tuberculosis cases occur.

Stop TB Partnership said it would start supplying the regimen following World Health Organization’s guidance on using the drug. Mylan, however, said it will also sell the drug directly to countries.

Prices in low-income countries would be in-line with the price offered through GDF, but would be decided on a case by case basis where the drug is not supplied through GDF, it said.

The drug will be available in bottles of 26 tablets, with a six-month treatment requiring seven bottles.

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India-based Macleods Pharmaceuticals Ltd has also been granted a non-exclusive license to make pretomanid as part of the BPaL regimen, TB Alliance said Monday.

The maker of generic drugs will market the treatment in about 140 countries with high tuberculosis rates. (VOA)