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$1,6 billion needed to fight TB resistant drug

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Geneva, March 20, 2013 – The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria says $1,6 billion is needed annually to fight strains of tuberculosis with resistance to multiple drugs worldwide.

Sixty percent of the amount is expected to be channelled to Africa, which has the highest cases of tb deaths, making the multidrug-resistant TB also known as (MDR-TB), a major threat.

There are an estimated 630 000 people ill worldwide with this form of TB today. In 2011, 1.4 million people died due to TB, with the greatest per capita death rate in Africa.

WHO fears that while the Millennium Development Goal of turning around the TB epidemic has already been met, the 2% decline in the number of people falling ill with TB each year remains too slow.

It said two regions – Africa and Europe – were not on track to achieve the global target of halving the TB death rate between 1990 and 2015.

“We are treading water at a time when we desperately need to scale up our response to MDR-TB,” said Director-General of WHO, Dr Margaret Chan in a statement.

“We have gained a lot of ground in TB control through international collaboration, but it can easily be lost if we do not act now.”

Chan and Executive Director of Global Fund Dr Mark Dybul said the only way to carry out the urgent work of identifying all new cases of tuberculosis, while simultaneously making progress against the most serious existing cases, will be to mobilise significant funding from domestic sources and international donors.

WHO and the Global Fund have identified an anticipated gap of US$ 1.6 billion in annual international support for the fight against tuberculosis in 118 low- and middle-income countries on top of an estimated US$ 3.2 billion that could be provided by the countries themselves. Filling this gap could enable full treatment for 17 million TB and multidrug-resistant TB patients and save 6 million lives between 2014-2016.

“It is critical that we raise the funding that is urgently needed to control this disease,” said Dr Dybul. “If we don’t act now, our costs could skyrocket. It is invest now or pay forever.”

The announcements by Dr Chan and Dr Dybul come ahead of the World TB Day on March 24. This is the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch discovered the mycobacterium that causes tuberculosis.

In addition to the US$ 1.6 billion it is estimated that there is a US$ 1.3 billion annual gap for TB research and development during the period 2014-2016, including clinical trials for new TB drugs, diagnostics and vaccines.

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