Global Conference Focuses on HIV/TB Co-Epidemic Challenges; Report Finds International Spending on TB Research Only Slightly Increasing
Conference delegates at the 38th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Cape Town, South Africa, that began on Thursday are focusing on challenges presented by the HIV/TB co-epidemic, the AP/Google.com reports. Although about one-third of people living with HIV worldwide have TB, the two diseases often are treated separately, according to the AP/Google.com Nullis, AP/Google.com, 11/7).
About 3,000 HIV/AIDS researchers, government ministers, health officials, advocates and people living with the diseases are expected to attend the conference from more than 100 countries, local organizers said. The meeting will focus on the treatment of people living with HIV/TB coinfection, as well as the challenges associated with HIV/AIDS and the emergence of drug-resistant strains of TB (GlobalHealthReporting.org, 11/6).
A study released Wednesday ahead of the conference by Treatment Action Group found that funding for tuberculosis diagnostics and treatments increased only slightly in 2006 despite pledges to significantly increase support for the research (AP/Google.com, 11/7). The report said that global TB funding increased to $413 million in 2006 from $393 million in 2005 because of additional funding provided by private donors and pharmaceutical companies, the Financial Times reports (Jack, Financial Times, 11/7). The 2006 level was less than half of the amount that governments pledged to contribute to the Global Plan to Stop TB, 2006-2015, the report said. In addition, NIH, which contributed the largest amount overall, reduced its contribution to $120 million (AP/Google.com, 11/7). India also reduced its spending on TB research, while funding from Brazil, China and Russia increased.
"Governments around the world have failed to deliver on promises they made only a year ago," TAG Executive Director Mark Harrington said (Financial Times, 11/7). He added that TB is not "even on the radar" of the Bush administration. Mario Raviglione, director of the World Health Organization's Stop TB Department, said, "Current funding levels for TB research and development are vastly out of proportion with the scope of the TB epidemic" (AP/Google.com, 11/7). According to the Times, the decline in funding for TB research "confirm[s] fears" at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation of a "displacement effect," which would give other donors an excuse to limit their donations by claiming that their resources are not needed (Financial Times, 11/7).
The report is available online.
Kaisernetwork.org will serve as the official webcaster of the conference. Webcasts of select sessions, interviews and other resources are available online.
Additional coverage of news and developments from the conference is available at GlobalHealthReporting.org.