From MIRIAM ZIMBA –
in Shanghai China
THE fourth global forum on tuberculosis (TB) vaccines opened here yesterday with a call for enhanced investment in research development, as a way to end the disease.
The forum is being held under the theme ‘New and Innovative Approaches to Prevent TB.’
In her keynote address to the forum via video conferencing, president of the South African Research Medical Council Glenda Gray said the most effective way to control TB was through research on new vaccines.
She noted that some of the contributing factors to TB cases in Africa included lack of access to health care, and other health systems deficiencies, as well as insufficient research development, which contributed to unmet health needs.
TB continues to re-emerge among the most infectious diseases which have resulted in high mortality which negatively affects the health gains in Africa.??Southern Africa has five per cent of the global TB burden, which is seven times more than the global average.
Africa lags way behind other regions in research development in effectively managing TB.
She appealed to African governments to consider increasing research expenditure to more than two per cent of the total health care expenditure.
She also urged African governments to consider improving the scientific research as a way of enhancing the health of their populations.
Chairperson of the Stop TB Partnership working group on new TB vaccines David Lewinsohn said TB vaccines will be a cornerstone of global efforts to eliminate TB.??“The ambitious strategy that was recently adopted by the World Health Assembly is predicted on the introduction of more effective technologies to prevent, diagnose and treat TB, including new TB vaccines,” he said.
Dr Lewinsohn also called for the need for encouragement and sustainability of the next generation of TB vaccine researchers.
Director of the Chinese National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Ping Chen said although it has been more than 90 years since the discovery of the BCG TB vaccines, the world is still?battling with the disease burden relating to TB.