The road to ending tuberculosis

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Source- The post is based on the article “The road to ending tuberculosis” published in “The Hindu” on 23rd March 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Issue related to development and management of health

Relevance– Communicable diseases, their treatment and management

News–  The article deals with important areas of action to end TB by 2030. It also explains the global response to stop TB incidence.

What are global efforts taken to reduce the incidence of TB?

In 1993, the World Health Organization declared TB a global health emergency.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria began disbursing money directed toward the global TB epidemic in 2003.  But conditions are imposed on it by its donor constituents. There are conflicts among stakeholders regarding the amount of money allocated for three diseases.

TheStopTB Partnershipmobilises a disparate set of actors towards the goal of ending TB.

How has the global TB response been adapting to changes?

There is engagement of people affected by the disease.

There is use of molecular diagnostic tools developed for diagnosing TB.

Social safety programmes to address the poverty drivers of the TB epidemic have been introduced.

Mobile and computational data revolution is being leveraged to improve treatment outcomes

What are the three areas that are important to achieve the goal of ending TB by 2030?

The First area is vaccine development.

There is a need for the development and wide use of an adult TB vaccine. The current vaccine delivered at birth is 100 years old.

The experience with the COVID­19 vaccine development process can be used. The issue of equitable distribution seen with the COVID­19 vaccines should be avoided.

The second area is that of getting newer therapeutic agents for TB.

After a development drought of nearly five decades, a few new anti­-TB drugs are today available for widespread use.

Moving to an injection free and shorter all oral pills regimen for TB will improve compliance and reduce patient fatigue.

The effort to come up with newer drugs needs to accelerate so that drug resistance to the most recently introduced drugs can be tackled.

The third area of action is diagnostics.

Use of AI-­assisted handheld radiology with 90­ second reporting and 95% plus accuracy for diagnosing TB is important development. It should be rolled out universallyimmediately.

Sentinel, passive surveillance and interpretation of cough sounds for TB is another breakthrough area. This allows for home­level screening and monitoring. It should be used widely.

Confirmatory diagnosis using nucleic acid amplification can be explored. InDx diagnostics coalition and other biotech startups should be incentivised to break the complexity of molecular testing and price barriers with affordable high­ quality innovations.

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