From a Cape Town prison, to tuberculosis clinics, to the meeting rooms of the 3rd Global Forum on Vaccines, the ACTION Secretariat and many of our partners are spending World TB Day in South Africa this year.
While South Africa has one of the highest burdens of TB in the world, the country has become a hub for the development, testing, and roll out of important new tools to fight TB – the diagnostic called GeneXpert, along with new TB drugs and vaccines.
As ACTION Director Kolleen Bouchane outlined in her Huffington Post, new vaccines to prevent TB and new drugs to effectively treat it are an essential part of our long game to defeat this ancient disease. And as an op-ed in today’s Forbes magazine pointed out, we must also play an effective short game to end TB. With its drug resistant forms spreading, TB can only be controlled and defeated with effective prevention and treatment efforts right now.
South Africa’s leaders should be congratulated for their efforts to increase the number of South Africans who can access treatment for TB and HIV. Ten years ago, no one had access to ARVS in this country. Now, South Africa has the largest ARV treatment program in the world and funds the majority of the country’s TB program. These efforts were complemented by international institutions, particularly the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.