G20 declaration recognises TB as major global economic challenge

The G20 Leader’s Declaration, published this weekend, has listed anti-microbial resistance (AMR) – including drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis – as a key global economic challenge.

In a section devoted to AMR, the declaration recognises AMR as a growing threat to public health and economic growth and calls for a number of important measures to address the problem. These measures, which echo calls from the TB world around drug resistant TB, include:

  • the prudent use of antibiotics
  • increased public awareness of the issue
  • infection prevention and control
  • access to affordable and quality antimicrobials, vaccines and diagnostics – including by preserving current therapies
  • increased research and development – particularly for ‘priority pathogens’ such as tuberculosis

Drug-resistant TB is more costly and difficult to treat than drug-sensitive TB, with much lower survival rates. Though most cases of drug resistance still occur because of incorrect or incomplete treatment, growing numbers of cases are caused by person to person transmission of drug-resistant strains.

Finding and treating drug-resistant TB cases quickly is key to reducing the damage it can cause to individuals and the threat of them passing it to others yet, globally, only 1 in 5 people with MDR-TB globally receive appropriate treatment.

With the issue and solutions only too clear, this declaration now reinforces the urgency of action. The upcoming Global Ministerial Conference on TB in Moscow in November 2017, and the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on TB in 2018 offer further opportunities to push this agenda forward.

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