Russia and South Africa call for TB R&D to be a priority

At an official side event of the World Health Assembly co-hosted by the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation and the Department of Health, Republic of South Africa, the panel discussed the urgent need to accelerate tuberculosis (TB) R&D.

The Honourable Minister of the Russian Federation, Prof. V. Skvortsova, highlighted the first World Health Organization (WHO) ministerial conference on TB that is being hosted in Russia in November 2017 and the need for a new approach to beat TB globally, saying:

“It’s high time we unite our efforts. No one should be left behind.”

Director General of Health of South Africa, Dr M. P. Matsoso spoke of a need for sustainable funding, effective R&D and the mobilisation of national and international facilities, and offered support to the 3P project - a new funding and incentive mechanism for the development of drugs and treatments for TB.

She said: “Let us be counted and come up with a footprint that says ‘Yes we did it, we ended TB.’”

Director of Global TB Programme, Dr Mario Raviglione, shared the roadmap of events that will lead to the United Nation’s high-level meeting on TB in 2018, saying:

“Moscow gives us the trajectory leading to the UN high-level meeting on TB in 2018. This is the final destination and is unprecedented for TB. TB is finally getting where it needs to be.”

3P Project Lead from The Union, Dr Grania Brigden, briefed over 100 representatives of delegations attending the side event on the 3P project, which aims to deliver a one-month or less cure for TB that is accessible to everyone around the world.

3P is supported by 11 key organisations, including the leadership of the South African Department of Health and The Union.

Speaking today, Dr Brigden said:

"For the TB treatments of the future we need a healthy drug pipeline, adequate investment, collaboration and treatments available to all. Unfortunately this is not the case currently. 3P is an important step towards addressing these issues."

The side event heard from Senior Health Advisor, USAID, Dr A. A. Thwin who highlighted that one of the most important issues to end TB is sustainable financing and that a decision to invest in TB is also one of the best investments in development.

In closing, Ms J Ginnard from UNITAID spoke of the need for more investment and the launch of a new UNITAID call for proposals for funding. She said:

“We are acutely aware of the challenge of MDR-TB. We are currently investing $60 million in this but recognise that more needs to be done. With this in mind, last Sunday we announced further action we intend to take in MDR. We launched a new call for proposals to attract smart proposals to address MDR-TB.”