International Advocacy Update
By Claire Wingfield
TPresentations from TAG’s recent meeting on universal access to TB and HIV treatment, care, and prevention as well as TAG ’s Funding Trends in TB R&D 2005–2007: A Preliminary Report, are available online.
The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD) held its annual World Conference on Lung Health in Paris, October 16–20. The conference is the largest gathering of TB researchers, advocates, policy makers, service providers, and funders, and provides one of few opportunities for these key stakeholders to meet face-to-face each year. Prior to the start of the conference, TAG held a satellite meeting titled “TB/HIV Programs: Working Together to Achieve Universal Access to HIV and TB Prevention, Care, and Treatment.” The theme of the satellite meeting was TB and HIV program collaboration as a key strategy in achieving universal access for TB/HIV services, with a focus on sharing lessons learned and identifying key opportunities to encourage synergy between the two programs and other key stakeholders. TAG’s partners in organizing the daylong meeting were the Stop TB Partnership (a global membership organization of over 700 institutions and individuals concerned about TB), and AIDES (an AIDS nongovernmental organization providing direct services and policy advocacy in France and Francophone Africa).
Approximately 70 participants attended the satellite meeting, including national TB and AIDS control program personnel, researchers, policy makers, funders, and activists. The participation of representatives from national HIV programs at the meeting was significant, as they historically have not participated in TB conferences. In fact, at the urging of TAG and other partners, the IUATLD invited and sponsored ten national AIDS control managers from TB/HIV highburden countries to attend the conference. The satellite session was an opportunity for staff from the HIV and TB programs, which often work in parallel, to discuss challenges to addressing TB/HIV coinfection and strategize on how to partner more effectively and maximize resources.
The aim of the satellite meeting was to highlight the impact that TB/HIV coinfection is having on countries trying to achieve global TB and HIV targets, and therefore the need for TB and HIV programs and other key stakeholders to work more collaboratively in providing comprehensive and integrated TB/HIV services. Four panels explored the progress made toward universal access to TB/HIV prevention, care, and treatment at country and global levels and shared successful models of collaboration and community engagement. Panelists representing different sectors shared their experiences and discussants provided a critical analysis of the presentations. The panel discussions focused on the impact of TB/ HIV on HIV universal access and Global Plan goals; reducing the burden of HIV among people with TB; reducing the burden of TB among people with HIV; and resources needed to facilitate collaboration to achieve universal access to TB/HIV services.
In addition to the satellite meeting, TAG, in partnership with the Consortium to Respond Effectively to the AIDS and Tuberculosis Epidemic (CREATE), a leading TB research consortium, sponsored a press conference in order to highlight the need for newer and better tools to prevent, diagnose, and treat TB as well as call for more resources to encourage and support the development of these new tools. The panel of speakers included Drs. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi of the Pasteur Institute, Richard Chaisson of CREATE/The Johns Hopkins Medical Center, Mel Spiegelman of the Global Alliance for TB Drugs, Paul Nunn of the Stop TB Department of the WHO, and TAG’s executive director, Mark Harrington.
At the press conference TAG released Funding Trends in TB R&D 2005–2007: A Preliminary Report, which found that if funding for TB research continued at its current rate, less than half of the $9 billion recommended by The Global Plan to Stop TB: 2006–2015 will be spent on TB research and development by 2015. Mark Harrington warned that “after documenting TB research investments for 2005 through 2007—the last three years for which complete data are available—we can say that promises made by world governments and the private sector to supply the needed TB investment specified in The Global Plan are not being kept.” Dr. Barré-Sinoussi, who shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering HIV, emphasized that “expanded, accelerated research to combat tuberculosis—including HIV-related TB—is a key part of the world’s struggle against both diseases.”