RESULTS UK welcomes publication of first ever parliamentary note on drug resistant tuberculosis
RESULTS UK has welcomed the first note ever to be published by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) on drug resistant tuberculosis (TB). POST produces independent, balanced and accessible briefings on public policy issues related to science and technology.
The publication highlights that TB is a leading cause of death globally and that progress in the control of TB is threatened by drug-resistant strains of the disease. It also examines the extent of, and risks posed by, drug-resistant TB (DR TB) giving an overview of national and international TB surveillance, research into treatments and policy options to limit infections.
Drug resistant occurs when a patient fails to respond to one of the four main antibiotics used to treat the infection. It is a man-made problem, resulting from misuse of anti-TB drugs and poor management of the disease.
The note highlights that rates of drug resistant TB globally are not only growing, but are likely to be conservative in their estimates as the true burden of these complex strains – which are difficult and expensive to treat - is unknown due to many countries not having the capability to carry out surveys for DR TB.
The POST note follows the recent announcement by the Health Protection Agency that drug resistant cases of TB in the UK have increased by 26% in the last year. While the number of DR TB cases in the UK remains relatively low (431 in 2011 up from 342 in 2010) it takes up to two years to treat patients with anti- TB drugs and injections, which have horrible side effects. The cost of treatment for drug resistant strains is also significantly higher. To treat a normal case of the disease is estimated to cost on average £5,000, but a complex case like multi-drug resistant TB can be up to £100,000 – twenty times as expensive.
Speaking about the publication Aaron Oxley, Executive Director of RESULTS UK, said:
This report shines a spotlight on what we have known for some time. Drug resistant TB is a serious problem and one that is only going to get worse if appropriate action is not taken. In the UK context I would echo the comments of Professor Abubakar from the HPA: that it is vital commissioners, especially from parts of the country with the highest rates of TB, prioritise the delivery of appropriate clinical and public health TB services.
However this is not just a serious challenge for the UK, but a fundamental problem for countries across the developed and developing world. There is a saying that “TB anywhere is TB everywhere”. In order for us to help reduce the rates of the disease the UK Government should continue to contribute to international TB control efforts.
The most important organisation in response to tackling the disease is the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which accounts for two thirds of all global financing for TB. I would urge the UK Government to implement the findings of the UK Parliament’s International Development Select Committee and bring forward an increased financial contribution to the Fund to help expedite efforts to tackle this terrible disease.
Notes to editors:
About RESULTS UK
RESULTS UK (results.org.uk) is a non‐profit advocacy organisation that aims to generate the public and political will to end hunger and poverty. RESULTS’ focus is on educating and empowering people – be they ordinary citizens or key decision‐makers – to bring about policy changes that will improve the lives of the world’s poorest people. Our advocacy focuses on areas we believe have the most potential to make a difference. We have a track record of expertise and success in education, microfinance, health and child survival.
Further information - www.results.org.uk
Health Protection Agency annual tuberculosis report:
The number of drug resistant cases of TB continues to rise with 431 reports in 2011, up from 342 in 2010 – an increase of 26 per cent. Overall, 8,963 new cases of TB were reported to the Health protection Agency (HPA) in 2011, up from 8,410 cases in 2010. Although this represents an increase in new cases, it is within the range reported to the HPA in recent years.
International Development Select Committee report on the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
Key findings include:
- The Global Fund is invaluable; it needs to overcome its problems and return to full operation as soon as possible;
- DFID is a key partner whose increased contribution to the Global Fund could unlock funds from other donors. It should do all possible to commit additional funds earlier than 2013 by prioritising its assessment of the Global Fund ahead of, and separately from, the broader update of the Multilateral Aid Review;
Media Contact: Jessica Kuehne, 020 7499 8238 , firstname.lastname@example.org