Each day, 4,900 people die from tuberculosis (TB)—which is more than three people every minute—while an estimated 41 percent of people who fall sick with the disease are left undiagnosed and untreated. It is one of the top ten causes of death worldwide and was more deadly than HIV in 2015.
At the current rate of progress, the world is 150 years behind schedule to meet the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 2030 targets to reduce TB incidence and death. According to the WHO, 2016 investments in TB care and prevention in low- and middle-income countries will fall almost US$2 billion short of the US$8.3 billion needed. Furthermore, in 2015, funding for TB research and development, including new tools, such as drugs, diagnostics and vaccines, fell to its lowest level since 2008.
The TB public health crisis is further aggravated as drug-resistant forms (DR-TB) continue to take hold. Effectively tackling the TB epidemic requires advancement in a number of key areas, including: diagnostics; testing for drug-resistance; developing individual drugs and combining them in regimens for both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB; putting in place optimised models of care and regulatory frameworks.
This briefing paper focuses on the critical area of treatment for DR-TB. It provides an overview of the work of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and its partners, including national ministries of health, in accelerating urgently-needed patient-centered research to improve the quality and availability of treatment regimens for DR-TB.
MSF is one of the biggest non-governmental providers of TB treatment care—including for DR-TB—in the world. MSF has TB treatment projects in 24 countries around the world, and in 2015 supported more than 20,000 TB patients on treatment, including 2,000 patients with DR-TB.