Tuberculosis Research Funding Trends 2005 – 2018
December 10, 2019 – TAG’s latest report on global funding for TB research and development (R&D), published in collaboration with the Stop TB Partnership, presents new data on TB R&D funding in 2018 and analyzes trends in funding since 2005. The report—Tuberculosis Research Funding Trends, 2005–2018—is a critical accountability tool and serves as a barometer of progress in raising support for the scientific innovation needed to eliminate TB.
Global TB research funding totaled US$906 million in fiscal year 2018, an increase of US$134 million from 2017. This is the highest level of funding ever recorded by TAG. TB scientists and their advocates should feel encouraged by three back-to-back years of increasing investments from 2016 to 2018. However, the 2018 funding figure still falls more than half-way short of the US$2 billion annual target set at 2018’s United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB.
Public funders accounted for most of the US$134 million increase over 2017 and comprised more than two-thirds of total TB research spending. Private sector funding for TB R&D in 2018 totaled US$86 million, a number that has remained flat since 2015.
Only three countries—the United Kingdom, the Philippines, and South Africa—met their “fair share” targets by spending at least 0.1% of their overall R&D expenditures on TB research. The United States remained the single largest funder of TB research—spending US$125 million more than every other government combined—but did not meet its fair share target of US$445 million. India led spending among the BRICS nations.
“It is critical that governments recommit to meeting the fair share funding targets put forward by the global advocacy community,” said Mike Frick, TAG TB project co-director. “As part of giving their fair share, all countries must develop robust norms and standards that will concentrate resources on the most pressing research gaps and public health needs and ensure that all people will be able to access the benefits of scientific progress against TB. Equity must be the guiding principle of TB research financing.”
In addition to the funding data, TAG’s report features interviews with ten TB activists involved in TB research advocacy. While celebrating increased funding, these activists also pointed to troubling trends undermining the accessibility of TB research gains. The activists TAG spoke with saw equitable access to the benefits of TB research as the critical issue for the global TB research agenda. In order for TB research to benefit the communities that need it most, TB scientists, product developers, and funders must remain responsive to community input.
2019 marks the 14th year of TAG’s global survey, making this report series the longest-running record of TB research funding trends. This year’s report was written by Liz Barr and edited by TAG’s Mike Frick and Erica Lessem.