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£2.5 million grant to strengthen TB prevention and care decision-making

Monday, 13 March 2017

A project that is supporting global health policymakers to make evidence-informed decisions on tuberculosis (TB) prevention and care will continue for a further three years, thanks to a new £2.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Working with modellers and decision-makers, the School-led TB Modelling and Analysis Consortium (TB MAC) has made great strides to improve the availability and quality of TB modelling evidence globally. This new grant allows TB MAC to continue its vital work in highlighting the potential impact of new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines, as well as their cost-effectiveness across a range of settings.

Launched four years ago, TB MAC is an open group of mathematical modellers and economists across multiple academic and country-level institutions. Their aim is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of TB policy prevention and care, by supporting policymakers to make improved evidence-based decisions, and creating strong links between modellers and economists worldwide.

Tuberculosis is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. In 2015, 1.8 million people died from the disease, with 95% of these cases occurring in low- to middle-income countries. Critical data and modelling gaps, as well as conflicting policy recommendations, have often led to poor TB prevention and care. 

TB MAC and its partners have influenced activities around the globe, from providing direct support to the World Health Organization (WHO) and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to bringing together and supporting country level modelling groups who have worked with decision-makers in multiple countries worldwide.

Richard White, Professor of Infection Disease Modelling at the TB Modelling Group at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Director of the TB Modelling and Analysis Consortium said: “TB is now the number one cause of death from a single infectious disease. Despite advances, there remain significant communication, resource and decision-maker empowerment gaps that need to be addressed to maximise the utility of modelling evidence in decision making.

"With partners the Consortium is now poised to fill these gaps, increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of TB prevention, and care policy and practice at global and country level. We are very grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their continued support.”

In 2015, the WHO estimated that around 6.1 million people had access to quality TB care, yet 4.3 million of those did not receive it. The WHO also highlighted the need for better reporting, diagnosis and access to care to close this gap. The Consortium will create and assess high quality models, and bring together a wide range of expert opinion to answer priority policy questions, all of which will be made available to influential decision-makers.

In its first three-year grant period, TB MAC held meetings to discuss major issues in modelling HIV-associated TB, diagnostic testing, and novel drug regimens, as well as identifying and funding critical research.

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Image: 3D computer-generated image of a cluster of rod-shaped drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. Credit CDC/James Archer.

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