WHO Global TB Report 2018 urges action from political leaders – expert comment

3D computer-generated image of a cluster of rod shaped drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria

Despite fewer people dying from tuberculosis (TB) in 2017, and an estimated 54 million deaths averted since 2000, TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious disease according to the Global TB Report 2018 released by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Report, published ahead of the first-ever United Nations high-level meeting on TB next week, warns that countries around the world are not doing enough to meet the global target of ending TB by 2030. It urges political leaders gathering at the meeting to accelerate the response and increase international funding to help end the disease.

Commenting on the Report, Mishal Khan, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Systems Research at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said:

“The WHO 2018 Global TB Report highlights the massive gap in funding ($1.3 billion) for research that will allow us to tackle the TB epidemic. Although the report focuses on research to accelerate the development of new tools such as vaccines, diagnostics and medicines, we also need to allocate parallel research funding to address barriers to implementation of effective strategies and to policy change in high-TB burden countries.

“Indeed the report emphasizes that action beyond the health sector is essential to prevent TB by reducing risk factors. Such action requires commitments beyond ministries of health, and the UN meeting of Heads of State next week comes at an ideal time to galvanize multi-sectoral action.”