IDWeek 2018: Stronger political will needed to end TB, says infectious diseases expert

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Science Speaks is covering IDWeek in San Francisco with reporting on breaking news and developments in global infectious diseases, and the people who drive them.

SAN FRANCISCO – The UN High Level Meeting on Ending Tuberculosis targets on TB detection, treatment and prevention, along with targets on increasing funding for responses and research, are the right ones to end the epidemic by 2030. But without stronger political will – particularly from countries with the highest burdens of tuberculosis – the High Level Meeting on TB will fail to result in any progress against the world’s biggest infectious disease killer, Dr. Tom Quinn, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health, said during a Facebook Live discussion here.

Only 50 heads of states attended the High Level Meeting held during the UN General Assembly in September, Quinn said. Of those, only nine represented high TB burden countries. While ministers of health from the highest burden countries, including India, China and Russia, attended, that isn’t enough to build the kind of political will that’s needed to reach the targets laid out in the political declaration that resulted from the High Level Meeting, Quinn said.

Despite some disappointments on the lack of high level political participation at the meeting, Quinn said, he’s optimistic the political declaration will catalyze an acceleration of detection, treatment and prevention. Results from a recent vaccine trial that demonstrated prevention of TB disease in 52 percent of study participants raises hopes even higher, Quinn said.

Watch the full interview here to learn more about the High Level Meeting, the U.S. participation and contributions, and what needs to happen next to meet the targets of the political declaration.

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