Health: Report Calls For Increased Efforts On TB; WHO Warns About Antibiotic-Resistant Sexually Tran
Tuberculosis is still a deadly killer, and a new report by two humanitarian organisations raises alarm on poor progress on the disease diagnosis and treatment. The report calls for governments to increase efforts to fight the disease, and for the G20 countries to mobilise funds to help, in particular to boost research and development for new treatments. Separately, the World Health Organization issued a call for new treatments to fight antibiotic resistant gonorrhoea.
The report authored by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF – Doctors Without Borders), and the Stop TB Partnership, is the third edition of a series titled “Out of Step.” It reviews tuberculosis policies and practices in 29 countries, accounting for 82 percent of the global tuberculosis burden.
“Every 18 seconds, a person dies of TB,” according to an MSF press release, The verdict of the report is clear: government can do “much more to prevent, diagnose and treat people affected” by tuberculosis, which killed 1.8 million people in 2015, said the release.
The report calls for the G20 summit, currently taking place in Germany, to include tuberculosis in their efforts to tackle the wider problem of drug-resistant infections.
According to the report, the majority of people in the 29 countries surveyed are still tested with a method that fails to detect many cases, or requires up to several months to confirm the disease. The two organisations found that out of the 29 countries, only 13 have made shorter tuberculosis treatments available.
Need for New, Accessible Treatments
The report calls for governments to support the launch of innovative research to develop new, affordable all-oral regimens that are shorter, have fewer side effects, and have a lower pill burden. The report mentions the 3P Project, which is an MFS project, which is “dedicated to initiating a better, faster way to develop a short-course pan-TB regimen, instead of developing single medicines.”
The report further states that the 3P Project “has built affordability into drug development, because their costs are covered up front: prize money goes towards early-stage development, grants pay for trials that combine new medicines, and open collaborative platform ensures access for developers, and the pooling of data, intellectual property and products ensures accelerated and affordable access.”
The 29 countries surveyed were: Armenia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Cambodia, Central African Republic, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Viet Nam, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.
Antibiotic Resistant Gonorrhoea: Urgent Need for New Drugs
Separately today, the World Health Organization said in a press release that a common sexually-transmitted infection, gonorrhoea, is getting harder to treat and sometimes impossible to treat due to antimicrobial resistance.
The bacteria that causes gonorrhoea is evolving to resist new classes of antibiotics, according to the WHO. Even high-income countries, where the WHO says the surveillance is best, are finding cases of untreatable gonorrhoea by all known antibiotics, according to the release, which adds that diagnosis and report of untreatable infections are lacking in lower-income countries.
Gonorrhea can infect the genitals, rectum and throat, and complications of the disease “disproportionately affect women, including pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility, as well as an increased risk of HIV.”
According to the release, the research and development pipeline for gonorrhoea is “relatively empty, with only 3 new candidate drugs in various stages of clinical development.” The WHO remarks that the development of new antibiotics is “not very attractive for commercial pharmaceutical companies.”
The release underlines efforts from the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP), recently launched by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), and the WHO, to develop new antibiotic treatments for gonorrhoea.