Updated 10 March 2016

Brics countries should co-operate in fight against TB

A TB specialist says Brics countries should increase research collaborations, as the largest number of TB cases worldwide occur in these countries.

The director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research and an official of the Indian government's department of health research, Dr Vishwa Mohan Katoch, says Brics countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) should increase research collaborations because 63% of the global TB burden exists in these countries.

He said during a conference in Paris that meetings were being held between the countries to identify specific areas for research collaboration between them.

Brics nations might consider doing research projects together and fund their own research components. Katoch said the sharing of knowledge in especially areas such as epidemiology and intervention research could be to everyone's advantage.

The president and CEO of the Global Alliance of TB Drug Development, Dr Mel Spigelman, said at the same conference that there should be a new thrust for more effective diagnostic and treatment tools for tuberculosis.

Forging partnerships

He suggested researchers adopt new ways of doing things, saying: "We don't optimally use all the resources we have and we have to accelerate partnerships."

"Purely commercial models do not work in TB-related research and development and not enough has been done in terms of forging partnerships to bring in new partners."
Referring to the area of funding Dr Spigelman said that the work that needed to be done actually dwarfed the work that had already been done.

The interim executive director of the International Union against Turberculosis and Lung Disease, Jose Louis Castro, said: "Despite the fact that TB is 100% curable, it still takes lives. Let us be more pro-active. We in the TB community sometimes engage in more waiting than we need to – we wait for new tools and new funding."

"We must start thinking in a new way about research."

Treatment policy

The director of the Institute for TB Research of the Indian Council of Medical Research, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, said: "Under-nutrition and the growing epidemic from diabetes, apart from tobacco use and indoor air pollution, are also impacting TB control adversely in South East Asian nations, whereas in Sub-Saharan African context the impact of HIV epidemic is more significant on TB."

"Prevention and treatment policy and programming has to take these factors into account,” he said.

“There are huge delays in translating effective interventions into policy at a country level as there are practical issues of feasibility, acceptability, cost-effectiveness, logistics, among others,” said Dr Swaminathan.


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