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MSF TB Research Funding Report: November 08

Every day the medical teams of Médecins Sans Frontières come up against the obstacle of inadequate or ineffective tools needed to treat, detect or prevent disease – especially those diseases that predominantly occur in poor countries, such as tuberculosis, malaria or other neglected infectious diseases.

Although governments have repeatedly recognised this disasterous situation leading to avoidable suffering, the financial commitments for much needed research and development of drugs, diagnostics and vaccines lag far behind the political rhetoric – raising questions about the seriousness of the international community’s response to this crisis in health.

MSF has produced two reports that examine the contributions of the European Commission and, separately, of Germany to the funding of research for neglected diseases with a particular focus on tuberculosis.

Maes S from Cambodia is lucky to be alive. He contracted multi-drug resistant TB but because of the inadequacies of the present diagnostic tools available to him, he was not put on MDR TB treatment until ten years after he was first suspected of being infected with MDR-TB and a full 15 years after his initial diagnosis with TB. Read more

Worldwide, this disease claims around 1.7 million lives every year. We now face further and more alarming challenges with the emergence of strains that are resistant to standard drugs and the rapid spread of the disease among people living with HIV.

Given that TB is an emerging threat in Europe with the rapid spread of the epidemic in Central Asia, the Caucasus, Eastern Europe, and even within the European Union in the Baltic States, the results of our investigation are extremely worrying: The European Commission does far too little to fight an epidemic that is spiralling out of control.

MSF launched its report at a meeting hosted by a group of Members of the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday 12th November


No Money at all for TB Diagnostics

If the case for funding research into TB drugs is dire, then the problem for funding TB diagnostics is appalling. Great advances could be achieved by improving the capacity to positively identify TB at the earliest juncture. But diagnostic research attracted only 7.3% of all global funding for TB in 2006 (source: TAG, July 2008). The EC did not provide any funding for TB diagnostics research either in 2006 nor in 2007.