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Scientists seek to end TB by 2045

By Mercy Adhiambo | March 24th 2019 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

It is possible to completely eliminate TB infections by 2045 or sooner with governments’ increased political will and financial resources towards fighting the disease.

A report published by the Lancet Commission on TB indicates that if countries invested in providing evidence-based interventions to everyone, especially those in high risk groups, there is hope that nobody will ever get TB infection.

The research also recommends finding new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent TB.

“This report is optimistic about ending TB -- a disease that is preventable, treatable and curable However, there is no room for complacency in our work, and we must act quickly and strategically to save the next generation from TB,” says lead Commissioner Dr Eric Goosby, UN Special Envoy on Tuberculosis.

The report was published by 37 commissioners from 13 countries, and includes economic analyses, and modelling of interventions to counter treatment challenges such as drug-resistant TB, HIV co-infection, and treatment within private health systems.

The authors call for universal access to drug susceptibility testing to identify if patients have drug resistant TB at diagnosis to ensure they are given appropriate treatment, including access to second-line treatment for drug-resistant TB.

The report suggest that increasing these interventions (drug susceptibility testing to 90 per cent of people diagnosed, and second-line treatment to 85 per cent of people with drug-resistant TB) in Moldova, where there are high levels of drug-resistant TB, could lead to a 73 per cent reduction in TBdeaths and a 43 per cent reduction in new cases between 2018-2045.

Kenya was also used as a case study, and it guided findings that indicate identifying groups at high risk of TB infection like HIV victims, people living in a house with a TB patient, migrants, prisoners, health care professionals, and miners and bringing them into care helps in treating latent TB.

By making TB prevention available to 90 per cent of people with HIV in Kenya, the authors estimate that TB mortality could be reduced by 17 per cent between 2020 and 2045.

The experts also call for private institutions to liaise with community health workers and government bodies to monitor adherence of patients who are diagnosed in their facilities. 

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