13 October 2010 - New York City - Activists from the New York City based Treatment Action Group hailed the launch of The Global Plan to Stop TB: 2011-2015 by the Stop TB Partnership today.
"The new Global Plan recognizes that massive new investments in research and development are needed if we are ever to make TB elimination by the year 2050 a possibility," said Mark Harrington, TAG’s executive director. "We salute the Partnership for including estimates of investment needs for fundamental science and operational research to underpin the pipeline of new diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines, which will be required if we are ever to eliminate TB."
In accordance with recommendations made by TAG since 2006, the Partnership now estimates that $2 billion a year is needed in research and development to pave the way for TB elimination. The new plan increased the projected cost for TB R&D to include $2.1 billion for basic science and $0.4 billion for operational research, two critical components required to develop new tools and assess their utility in program settings that were missing from the original plan.
"TAG is pleased that the new Global Plan sets more ambitious targets for detecting, treating, and curing more of the world’s 9 million cases of TB each year," said Javid Syed, TAG’s TB/HIV project director. "But countries remain far from providing universal access to basic TB diagnosis and treatment, let alone more expensive and complex diagnosis and treatment for the many forms of drug-resistant and HIV-associated TB."
Total research costs have been revised upward from $9 billion from the ten-year plan to $9.8 billion for 2011-2015.
The new Global Plan also increased its targets for implementing high-quality TB programs to save more lives by a massive increase in laboratory capacity to diagnose the disease as well as by treating more cases of drug-resistant disease. But TAG warned that the implementation targets set by the plan should be used as a floor and not a ceiling as the targets fall far short of the global number of people in need of TB care.
"Based on current epidemiology we know that there are likely to be at least 2.5 million MDR-TB cases between 2011 and 2015 but the plan aims to treat only one million - or forty percent of the new cases - according to international guidelines," said TAG’s Executive Director Mark Harrington. He went on to say, "Based on the current annual incidence of about 9 million new TB cases, we can predict that there will be 45 million new TB cases in the next five years, while the plan aims to diagnose and treat only 32 million people, and only 28 million are likely to be treated successfully. While we applaud the improvements, the plan still falls far short of universal access."
The revised plan also warns that concerted advocacy will be needed to reach the $46.7 billion to fully fund the research and implementation components. Support from both high burden countries as well as donor governments will be needed. Ezio Távora, a Brazilian TB/HIV activist and former member of the Stop TB Partnership Coordinating Board said, "Growing economies such as Brazil, India, China, South Africa and the Russian Federation have an especially important role to play, not only in fully funding their own TB programs but also contributing to the TB research efforts. Unless the global community works together, the goal of TB elimination will not be met."