The head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Dr. Rajiv Shah met with tuberculosis (TB) advocates from various organizations Friday, the day before World TB Day. The group discussed how to do more to combat TB disease in a time of shrinking budgets, when USAID’s support is needed to push several key TB innovations over the “finish line,” in particular by funding late-stage clinical trials. USAID is focusing on partnerships with other countries – including emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – to leverage them to do their part in combating TB.
During the meeting, Shah referenced two new centers to be housed at USAID: an office to accelerate innovations and impact; and an office focusing on health systems. Shah expressed a keen interest in supporting an agenda of innovations and new technologies, and was especially supportive of potential combination therapies that would reduce the treatment time and costs for drug-susceptible and drug-resistant TB exponentially. The health systems office will focus on two priorities – stewardship (to help guide growing economies in best practices) and health financing reform.