Jan 23, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Tuberculosis Elimination By 2035 In Peril After Research Funding Crashes

Nov 29, 2015 11:28 PM EST

According to Treatment Action Group (TAG), the funding for tuberculosis research fell to USD $674 million, $1.3 billion short of the $2 billion needed annually. The plan of eradicating the disease between 2030 and 2035 seems unlikely to happen with this event.

Mark Harrington, executive director of TAG, issued in a statement, "Anything short of a massive and sustained infusion of money into TB research will jeopardize our chances of meeting global goals."

Tuberculosis's death rate has dropped to 47% since 1990. However, this widespread airborne infection kills 4,000 people every day worldwide. The progress in elimination of the disease is halted by drug-resistant strains as they outpace the development of new treatment. These drug-resistant strains are also difficult to diagnose and treat. In 2014, the drug-resistant tuberculosis strains had afflicted 480,000 people.

The World Health Organization targeted 2035 as the year when the world is tuberculosis-free. This is also reaffirmed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by putting out an earlier target of 2030 in September.

According to TAG, gains in tuberculosis research had been modest since 2005. In 2010, the entire movement had stagnated. Pharmaceutical companies are also dropping tuberculosis research since 2012, leaving the endeavor to philanthropic groups and public organizations.

"We won't eliminate TB unless we accelerate research and development," Lucica Ditiu, executive director of the Stop TB Partnership, said. Ditiu also urged the countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in leading the financial campaign for research and development on new tuberculosis treatment. These countries have the 40% tuberculosis-related deaths in 2014 and are accounted for 46% of the world's new tuberculosis cases.

There have been 1,263 cases reported in Australia in 2013, a 4% decrease of the number of reports in 2012. Australia has maintained low cases of tuberculosis in the 1980s. Since then, even with the advent of cure and new methods for early diagnoses and prevention, cases had been steadily increasing. This is mostly attributed to the immigration of people coming from tuberculosis-affected countries. 

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