In July 2020, leading voices in global health innovation and pandemic preparedness and response shared insight into enabling the rapid innovation and collaboration required to tackle the world’s most threatening pandemics, including COVID-19, TB, HIV/AIDS, and malaria. These discussions took place during Fighting Pandemics | 2020 and Beyond, hosted by TB Alliance.
The virtual event was moderated by The Wall Street Journal Senior Writer, Betsy McKay and featured Dr. Anthony Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, M.D., Chief Scientist, World Health Organization; and Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez, Founding Board Member, TB Alliance and Professor of Medicine, Columbia University.
Throughout the discussion, the experts noted that funding and political will are significant determinants of the pace of progress against pandemics—both new and old. Dr. Fauci pointed to the importance of consistent commitments that extend beyond individual actors, noting that “the fundamental principle of having a unified approach so that the political leadership supports the public health approach is obviously optimal.” The speakers also discussed the experiences, progress, and obstacles relating to global health product development, delving into concerns about efforts against COVID-19.
Dr. Swaminathan further called for the world to avoid ignoring preexisting pandemics, such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and malaria in the face of COVID-19. She said that the world has seen “tremendous scientific collaboration in this pandemic and willingness to share data, knowledge, and experiences. If that same philosophy and that same collaboration could go into developing drugs and vaccines for tuberculosis [and other neglected diseases], I think we could make a lot of progress.”
20 Years of Impact
Amid a global resurgence of TB in the year 2000, a diverse group of organizations gathered in Cape Town, South Africa. On February 8th of that year, these partners issued the Cape Town Declaration, describing the increasing TB burden as “a blot on the consciousness of human kind.” From this declaration came the call for the establishment of TB Alliance, a nonprofit product development partnership that would be dedicated to discovering, developing, and delivering faster, better TB cures.
When TB Alliance began this journey in 2000, the vision was clear: a world where no one dies of TB. Over the past 20 years, we’ve advanced toward this goal, and with help from partners and the global TB community, we continue to strive to make this vision a reality.
Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez
Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez spearheaded the founding of TB Alliance in 2000 and, today, serves as a member of the Board of Directors. He has dedicated much of his professional career in medicine to eradicating TB, with a particular focus on multidrug-resistant TB. In July 2020, Dr. Pablos-Méndez participated in the Fighting Pandemics | 2020 and Beyond webinar, where he urged the global health community to “continue to work on the science and technology of new tools,” and to “go beyond current paradigms” to achieve progress. He is currently a Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and had previously worked as Director of Knowledge Management at the World Health Organization and Managing Director for Global Health at The Rockefeller Foundation. In 2011, Dr. Pablos-Méndez was appointed by President Obama (with U.S. Senate consent) to lead USAID’s bureau for Global Health.