Global forum aims to accelerate progress on TB vaccine development

25 March 2013 - Cape Town - The Third Global Forum on TB Vaccines opened today, bringing together several hundred researchers, policymakers, donors, civil society representatives and other stakeholders committed to the development of new tuberculosis (TB) vaccines.

Over the next three days, delegates will review progress, share the latest data and findings on TB vaccines and promote partnerships and collaboration designed to accelerate and streamline TB vaccine research.

Speaking at the forum’s opening, Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership said that new TB vaccines are essential to turning the tide against the global TB epidemic. "We have to follow a two-pronged approach. We have to increase our efforts in TB care and we have to outsmart this disease through new technologies for more effective prevention, diagnosis and treatment of TB - this means new vaccines, drugs and diagnostics," Dr Ditiu said. "However this will not happen unless there is a dramatic increase in funding for research and development of new tools to fight TB."

Writing in a column prior to the event, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Roll Back Malaria and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and UN Envoy for Africa, argued for greater investment in health. "We need to invest right now, both at home and across Africa," she said. "We need more effective vaccines and drugs. We need to invest in healthcare workers, facilities and systems. It’s not declarations that save lives; it’s the resources that come afterwards. At this week’s summit, I urge the BRICS nations to back their January declaration by investing resources in Africa’s health."

The forum was organized under the auspices of the Stop TB Partnership Working Group on TB Vaccines with support from Aeras, TBVI, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Satvi, the Aurum Institute, KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation and other partners.