Economist Intelligence Unit Report Calls for Urgent Global Action to Combat the Growing Tuberculosis Pandemic
LONDON (June 30, 2014) – A new report on tuberculosis (TB) published today by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) investigates the increasing health challenges posed by TB and calls for new ways to improve the effectiveness of the global response to this pandemic.1 The report supported by Janssen and titled ‘Ancient enemy, modern imperative: A time for greater action against tuberculosis’, highlights the evolving TB crisis. It emphasises the urgent need for integrated care, harnessing innovative yet cost-effective strategies and raising the profile of TB to overcome this highly infectious, yet treatable killer.
Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary at the STOP TB Partnership explains that TB has been met with apathy: “It is like an orphan. It has been neglected even in countries with a high burden and often forgotten by donors and those investing in health interventions.”
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As a result of the need for critical change to enable more effective TB control, the report calls for new TB strategies that address current weaknesses, while leveraging successes to date. These changes include:1
- Finding and treating people where they live: To identify the nearly 3 million new cases of TB every year, health systems in countries with a high TB burden need to look across the entire population. Even those countries with a lower prevalence have to find better ways of going into and working with marginalised populations.
- Taking TB control out of existing silos: TB needs to treat the whole person, including addressing common co-morbidities such as HIV/AIDS, and co-ordinating public and private health provision.
- Harnessing cost-effective technology: Although progress in TB remains frustratingly slow, new tools available today – both medical and non-medical such as mobile technologies and integrated databases – have the potential to transform treatment.
- Raising the profile of TB: Perhaps most important, activists and other stakeholders must translate new global ambitions into national ones - that deploy the tools at hand with sufficient energy to make more rapid progress against this disease.
“The report calls for more attention to the basics in the battle against TB and the drug-resistant form of the disease; current efforts are insufficient and resistance is out of control. The vast majority of people with MDR-TB are not properly diagnosed or treated appropriately, and we have to recognise that MDR-TB is a real global public health emergency. Not only is the growth of drug resistance making TB control more difficult, but it is also revealing failures in basic TB control,” said Dr Neil Schluger, Chief Scientific Officer of the World Lung Foundation and chair of the Tuberculosis Trials Consortium.
If these required changes are urgently implemented this will play a key role in helping achieve the new “Post 2015 Global Strategy and Targets for Tuberculosis Prevention, Care and Control”, approved by The World Health Organization (WHO).2 These latest targets call for reducing the incidence of TB to below 10 cases per 100,000 population and cutting the number of deaths by 95% by 2035 - however this will require healthcare systems to make dramatic progress and for the apathy associated with TB to be extinguished.
“While efforts in the fight against TB have saved millions of lives, to control this disease effectively, fundamental changes are required. With the development of new treatments and cost-effective technologies, now is the time to make these changes so that they can be introduced responsibly and sustainably through structured health systems,” said Wim Parys, M.D., R&D Head, Global Public Health, Janssen. “We are committed to driving better health outcomes, improving the lives of TB patients worldwide and continuing to work towards a coordinated global TB control strategy that ensures treatments are available and used appropriately.”
Tuberculosis is responsible for the second greatest number of deaths from a single infectious disease, after HIV/AIDS, causing 1.3 million deaths in 2012 (2% of global mortality).1 Someone with active, pulmonary TB on average infects around one new person per month and in two thirds of active cases, if left untreated, TB is fatal.1 For pulmonary TB this is usually as a result of degrading the lungs to an extent the person affected eventually suffocates to death.
Despite treatments for TB existing for nearly 70 years3 and the WHO estimating that 22 million lives have been saved due to ongoing successful efforts since 19952 the report emphasises that progress has been too slow and significant weaknesses still remain. The report highlights that multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) strains, defined as being resistant to the most powerful first-line treatments4 have received too little attention with rates of MDR-TB continuing to make up an increasing percentage of all new TB cases across the globe, especially in central Asia and Eastern Europe.
A full copy of the EIU report and supporting materials, including static and animated infographics, are available at: www.janssenhealthpolicycentre.com
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is the world’s leading resource for economic and business research, forecasting and analysis. The EIU is headquartered in London, UK, with offices in more than 40 cities and a network of some 650 country experts and analysts worldwide. It operates independently as the business-to-business arm of The Economist Group, the leading source of analysis on international business and world affairs. More information is available at www.eiu.com
About Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB)
MDR-TB is a particularly complicated form of TB characterised by resistance to at least two of the standard four-drug, anti-TB drugs.4 Inadequate treatment allows resistant bacteria to thrive and poses a significant transmission risk to the general population.4 Without significant public health intervention, it is estimated that more than two million people will be infected with MDR TB strains of TB, between 2011 and 2015.5
About Janssen and TB
Janssen has developed a new treatment for MDR-TB. The company has a global commitment to addressing diseases of high unmet need, such as MDR-TB, and to underscoring the need for improved treatment options and patient access to treatment.
About Janssen Global Public Health
The Janssen Global Public Health (Janssen GPH) group complements the groundbreaking science of the Janssen Pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson with innovative strategies that improve access to medicines, foster collaborations and support public health solutions to sustainably advance health care worldwide. Current areas of focus include multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB); human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); elephantiasis and river blindness; intestinal worms; and use of mobile technologies (mHealth) to improve health outcomes.
- Economist Intelligence Unit. 2014. Ancient enemy, modern imperative: A time for greater action against tuberculosis. Available at www.janssenhealthpolicycentre.com
- WHO. Global strategy and targets for tuberculosis prevention, care and control after 2015. May 2014. Available at http://www.who.int/tb/post2015_tbstrategy.pdf?ua=1 (last accessed June 2014)
- Zumla A, et al. Advances in the development of new tuberculosis drugs and treatment regimens. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2013;12:388-404. Available at http://www.nature.com/nrd/journal/v12/n5/box/nrd4001_BX1.html (last accessed June 2014)
- Pub Med. Provisional CDC guidelines for the use and safety monitoring of bedaquiline fumarate (Sirturo) for the treatment of multidrug resistant tuberculosis. 2013 Oct 25;62(RR-09):1-12. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24157696 (last accessed June 2014)
- WHO. Partners call for increased commitment to tackle MDR-TB. March 2011. Available at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2011/TBday_20110322/en/index.html. (last accessed June 2014)
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