World TB Day at UCL

23 March 2012

World TB Day

A conference titled ‘Tuberculosis: Local and Global’ is being held today (24 March) at UCL to mark World TB Day.

On the same day The Journal of Infectious Diseases (JID) will publish a special supplement: ‘Tuberculosis and TB/HIV/AIDS: Unanswered Questions and Controversies’, guest edited by Professor Alimuddin ‘Ali’ Zumla (UCL Infection & Immunity) and Dr Marco Schito (Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine).

The articles from the JID supplement will be presented along with local tuberculosis research performed at UCL and the Royal Free Hospital at the conference. The event is hosted by UCL and is being held at the Royal Free.

Worldwide, tuberculosis (TB) remains one of the most important causes of death from an infectious disease. TB and TB/HIV co-disease caused an estimated 1.4 million deaths in 2010 and there were 8.8 million incident cases of TB, with the highest rates occurring in sub-Saharan Africa and the largest number of cases in Asia.

The response to the drug-resistant tuberculosis epidemic seems to be ineffectual, with projected rapid increase in the global incidence of Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

Professor Ali Zumla

Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be disproportionately affected by the dual epidemics of TB and HIV. Moreover, the number one cause of death for HIV-infected patients in sub-Saharan Africa is TB.

The JID supplement arises from the urgent need to focus attention on core problems and secure a broad spectrum of opinion from TB and HIV/AIDS experts from various geographical backgrounds. It comprises 23 articles written by 164 authors from all over the world.

While recent TB control efforts have been substantial and progress in the development of new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines has accelerated, the implementation of coordinated TB/HIV treatment and prevention activities remains challenging. This is despite nearly 20 years of World Health Organisation (WHO)-directed and coordinated activity, and 12 years of multidrug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis–specific activity

Professor Zumla (UCL Infection & Immunity) commented: “The response to the drug-resistant tuberculosis epidemic seems to be ineffectual, with projected rapid increase in the global incidence of Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). MDR TB continues to spread and now poses a major threat to TB control – recent reports of highly drug resistant TB from Iran and Bombay are worrisome.

“This supplement also underlines preventable factors, such as crowded living conditions and under-nutrition that continue to make communities vulnerable to disease. The influence of non-communicable diseases, such as smoking-related lung disease, diet-related diabetes mellitus, malnutrition, as well as alcohol and drug abuse, highlight the need for a multi-disciplinary approach in tackling both TB and HIV.”

The special volume critically highlights current controversies and unanswered questions in TB and TB/HIV issues affecting adults and children, and provides insights into newer and enhanced approaches to achieving the Millennium Development Goals for TB control. Specifically, the volume covers operational issues, challenges, and priority needs relating to a broad range of diagnostic, management, prevention, surveillance and related research issues. The array of priorities spans development, evaluation, and implementation of new drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines.

Despite increased funding for TB, several articles point to a serious shortfall which continues to persist. The financial difficulties faced by the Global Fund place recent gains in TB control and the numbers of HIV-infected persons on life-saving treatment at serious risk in many donor-reliant countries. 

Image: World TB Day Poster (Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)


Links:

‘Tuberculosis: Local and Global’ conference website and full programme
Journal of Infectious Diseases
World TB Day