"Neglect, poorly funded TB programs and lack of quality health services" have fueled the emergence of drug-resistant tuberculosis, and the "specter of potential nightmare scenarios" will only expand if the international community does not address the problem, Mark Harrington, executive director of the Treatment Action Group.
Government funding for TB research and development declined from $259 million to $244 million between 2005 and 2006, according to a recent TAG report. The report also found that the 2006 level was less than half of the amount that governments pledged to contribute to the Global Plan to Stop TB, 2006-2015. In addition, NIH, which contributed the largest amount overall, reduced its contribution to $120 million.
According to Harrington, current funding needs for TB research total close to $2 billion annually, more than four times the current amount. He writes that groups such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation fill many of the current funding gaps and push some new products through the drug pipeline, but they "cannot rescue the world from the lack of sufficient public sector investment." Governments "must step up to the challenge and scale up their investments in both research and implementation," he adds.
The World Health Organization, donor countries, scientists and countries with high TB burdens "should immediately identify urgent TB research gaps, commit funding to fill those gaps and determine a coordinated global TB research agenda," Harrington writes, adding that the "private sector must also increase its investment" in TB research. Harrington concludes, "We are living in a time of potentially great scientific accomplishments, but what is missing is commitment to make those advances a reality".
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation