WHO sees end to TB

Officials with the World Health Organization said a plan released this week to eliminate tuberculosis identifies research gaps that need to be filled in order to speed up TB tests and create faster treatment regimens.

“There is an urgent need to scale up action against TB - 10 million people, including 4 million women and children, will lose their lives unnecessarily between now and 2015 if we fail,” Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO director-general, said. “TB control works, with global incidence of the disease declining since 2004, although much too slowly.”

Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, the Minister of Health of South Africa, said the plan could potentially cut global TB deaths in half.

“The Global Plan to Stop TB provides an urgently needed blueprint to cut global TB deaths by half,” Motsoaledi said. “In South Africa, we have embarked on an ambitious agenda for reducing the toll of TB on our people, and we are committed to meeting the Global Plan's targets. We call on world leaders to invest in the plan, which can help move us towards ridding the world of TB.”

The Global Plan also intends to create two new rapid tests that trained staff at even the most basic health outposts can use to diagnose TB accurately.

Chan said that another goal of the plan is for three new drug regimens to be in Phase III clinical trials by 2015. These three drug regimens include one for drug-sensitive TB and two for drug-resistant TB.

The $37 billion cost of the program  would cover implementation and TB care between 2011 and 2015. A funding gap of approximately $14 billion will need to be filled by international donors, according to Chan.