In 2021, more than 10 million people fell ill with tuberculosis and 1.6 million people died. Undoubtedly, effective vaccines would be the best solution to prevent and potentially eradicate TB. Yet no new TB vaccine has been licensed in 100 years. Prospects for new effective TB vaccines have recently improved, with at least 16 candidate vaccines in development. What mechanisms can accelerate the development and deployment of safe and effective TB vaccines?
Speakers who will discuss the topic at the World Economic Forum 2023 are Gloria Arroyo, Vice President of the Philippines, Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Jeremy Farah, Director of the Wellcome Trust, Dr Tedros Gabrielsis, Director General of the World Health Organization, and Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of Health of India.
Political view on tuberculosis
Speaker Gloria Arroyo said, “When I first became President of the Philippines in 2001, we were number seven in TB in the world. We put together a national TB program that featured Directly Observed Treatment Short Course, or DOTS, and a strong public audience partnership with the private sector So the prevalence of TB decreased during my time In 2007 there was a 31 percent reduction in bacteria-positive TB and a 27 percent reduction in smear-positive TB compared to 10 years before that. And another thing we did was we had mandatory child testing. So we moved our scores up a little bit. From number seven, we went up a little bit to number nine.”
She said that in 2019 they were ranked number four because after their tenure, there were slip-ups in the implementation of the TB program, which was due to the slip-up in the strong public-private partnership. She said that the burden of treatment drugs was falling more on the public sector and the role of the private sector became less. She also pointed out as a coin, DOTS had two phases. One, the political will to implement, and the other were the technical aspects, microscopy, treatment by direct observation, monitoring systems, etc.
He continued: “There are three political factors that are crucial in facing TB today and trying to eradicate it. The first is implementation and executive management. The second is political vision. And finally, the third is political will. Because everyone We’re worried about COVID, how do we get the political will now to realize that we may need to shift a bit from a COVID-focused mindset to address other major and essential health issues, including TB.”
Vaccines and Other Health Systems
Jeremy Farah, speaking on the importance of health systems, said: “Vaccines are game changers, but they will never be enough on their own. Some vaccines change everything. But really, the truth, one of the Lessons from the last three years is that you can have vaccines, but you need other systems, health systems. You need diagnostics. You need trust in your systems. You need health systems that can deliver that. And of course, you need treatment. There is an approach in vaccines, but to put vaccines in a broader system instead of thinking that it will be the only thing.
He said we have come a long way since COVID. He continued: “And that’s because of the advancement in science that’s been supported and invested in by a number of different places over many years, because of the progress that we’ve made in science over the last three years through COVID. And because I think with Due to a greater appreciation of the importance of diagnostic tests, the surveillance systems that the WHO, the Global Fund and national governments put in place to let you know that more people have TB and the ability to make science work for us in vaccines. be a game changer, but only when they’re integrated into everything else.”
Highlighting the state of tuberculosis today, Peter Sands said: “I think we should be a bit ashamed or ashamed of where we are at with TB. This is a disease that has been around for a long time and one that we have shown we can eliminate as a a public health threat in virtually every richest country in the world. And yet we allow millions of people to get sick and die, continuing. And we’re in a funny position where we’re 77 percent, so that we’re by far the largest provider of external funding for TB programs. But we spend less than a billion dollars. I mean, that’s a surprisingly small amount of money when you think about the tens and hundreds of billions of dollars that have been spent in the fight against COVID-19”.
He said that the positive thing is that there is a political will to really address the issue. There is also a new generation of tools, the prospect of a vaccine, better diagnostics, better treatments for drug resistant TB. His concern, as he expressed it, was that TB is essentially the disease of the poor, the marginalized, the people who are not on the television screen. He said that unless governments and communities and those working in the multilateral sector are determined to reach affected people, the goal will not be achieved.