TUESDAY, JUNE 19, 2018

WHO and Global Fund warn about tuberculosis threat

The World Health Organization and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria recently issued a warning about the growing threat from drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis.

WHO and the Global Fund said the TB bacterium's resistance to multiple drugs is likely to spread and at least $1.6 billion is need annually for international funding aimed at both treatment and prevention of the illness.

Director General of WHO Dr. Margaret Chan and Executive Director of the Global Fund Dr. Mark Dybul agreed that significant funding would need to be mobilized in order to continue TB surveillance and the treatment of existing cases. The overwhelming majority of international TB funding currently comes from the Global Fund. Dybul and Chan said it is imperative that fundraising for the organization be effective this year.

"We are treading water at a time when we desperately need to scale up our response to MDR-TB," Dr. Chan said. "We have gained a lot of ground in TB control through international collaboration, but it can easily be lost if we do not act now."

WHO and the Global Fund anticipate needing to fill the $1.6 billion gap in annual international support in order to aid 118 low and middle income countries. An additional $3.2 billion is needed from the countries themselves.

"It is critical that we raise the funding that is urgently needed to control this disease," Dr. Dybul said. "If we don't act now, our costs could skyrocket. It is invest now or pay forever."