The Lancet puts TB in the spotlight

On Wednesday the Lancet’s ‘Series on Tuberculosis’ was published to mark the 63rd World Health Assembly, currently being held in Geneva this week. A collection of articles written by noted academics, clinicians and TB advocates, the series demonstrates that tuberculosis (TB) is an ongoing public health threat; with its main drivers being HIV/AIDS, multidrug resistance and poverty. The Lancet is the pre-eminent medical journal in the UK, so this is a great opportunity to raise the profile of this devastating disease.

In 2009, the World Health Assembly, which is the decision-making body of the WHO and determines the policies of the organisation, published a resolution on multidrug-resistant TB. This endorsed strict quality standards for the provision of anti-TB drugs, efforts to limit their misuse and agreed to strengthen measures to make access universal to drug-resistant TB diagnosis and quality treatment. Yet this year, the World Health Organisation reported record levels of drug-resistant TB.

It is apparent that at current levels of funding and progress, the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on TB will not be met. Even though TB continues to kill more women than all the causes of maternal mortality combined, and children under the age of 15 accounting for approximately 20 percent of the global TB burden, TB is still not seen as a priority. In the UK, we are one of a handful of European countries where rates of TB continue to rise.

Which is why the UK Coalition to Stop TB (UKCSTB) following on from their campaign, ‘TB: A Disease of the Past? Action Now!’ is highlighting key ‘asks’ made in the TB Elections Asks, submitted to No. 10 on World TB Day in March earlier this year to:

  • Develop national standards of TB care in the UK
  • Raise TB at the EU and the G20 to push for concerted international action against the disease in 2010
  • Increase UK funding to fight TB, considering it is not only a global problem but an increasing threat to public health in the UK, especially amongst the homeless, drug users and immigrant populations
  • Continue to support the development of new vaccines, treatments and tools to diagnose TB
  • Always place the needs of the poor, the vulnerable and the ‘hard to reach’ at the top of the UK government’s agenda on TB.

The Lancet series holds some key messages to help strengthen TB advocacy and therefore using this in conjunction with the UKCSTB’s most recent campaign will help in political advocacy aimed at the new UK Government now in place.

The Lancet’s series on TB can be read here


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