TB REACH WAVE 7:
US$15 million for new TB drugs, new TB technologies and women in charge!
20th September, Geneva: US$15.4 million in start-up and scalability funds will be awarded to 37 grass-roots innovators with a mission to transform tuberculosis (TB) case finding, diagnostics, and care in their country. TB REACH, Stop TB Partnership’s platform for innovation, has now received approval from the Executive Committee to allocate the funds to TB organizations worldwide.
The selected grantees faced tough competition. Launched on February 18th this year, the Wave 7 call for applications received 593 letters of intent from which 149 applicants were invited to submit full proposals. After a rigorous evaluation and face-to-face discussion by the TB REACH Proposal Review Committee - a team of global TB, laboratory, community, private sector and gender experts - 37 proposals were chosen representing TB-combatting projects in 23 countries.
This year, the empowerment of women was at the center of the Wave 7 call for proposals and TB REACH sought projects that focused on people-centered approaches to TB care while igniting social change by boosting the empowerment of women and girls.
“It is time we have a TB response that is aligned with social movements. Empowering women and girls should be the rule in all development programming not the exception. We can advance TB diagnostics, improve community case finding, ensure better treatment outcomes, but always including women as leaders to make gender inequality a thing of the past.” said Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership.
Throughout Wave 7 evaluation, TB REACH continued to highlight innovation as a condition of selection: a project in Pakistan run by a women-led startup will utilize a pioneering tele-health app to improve opportunities for female doctors by engaging more of them to screen for TB and provide treatment follow-up to rural dwellers; a project in Peru will utilize latest developments in artificial intelligence to evaluate chest X-rays in female prisons while creating an positive environment for women to build self-efficacy and a sense of self-worth. In other settings, Wave 7 projects will build on the successful results of the work of other partners and donors focused on empowerment of women and girls, applying these lessons to communities affected by TB.
TB REACH will sustain a focus on engaging private sector providers with continued support from USAID. Eight projects were selected to work with private labs, pharmacists, clinics, and practitioners to improve TB screening, diagnosis and recording and reporting, while providing better people-centered care.
Other groundbreaking Wave 7 highlights include four projects focused on understanding the use of the exciting new regimen BPaL in Belarus, South Africa, Tajikistan and Ukraine; projects in Zambia and Bangladesh that will evaluate promising new diagnostics including the urine LAM; and a range of projects to address challenges in diagnosing TB in children and adolescents.
“TB REACH has long served as a platform for jump-starting new and creative approaches in TB and this year we’re extremely proud of the wide range of innovation evident in the proposals submitted and the courage shown by our applicants to employ new and promising technologies such as hand-held X-ray, new treatment regiments, new diagnostics, tele-health and digital adherence technologies.” said Jacob Creswell, TB REACH Team Leader.
Funding for TB REACH is provided by Global Affairs Canada, with additional funding from USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.