EU Leaders Urge Funding of Critically-needed New Tools against Drug-resistant Tuberculosis

Participants at high-level meeting seek to end TB health threat in Europe

May 11, 2017

BRUSSELS, 11 MAY 2017 — Leaders from the governments of France and the Netherlands today urged funding for new treatment and prevention tools against drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) at a high-level meeting in Brussels, citing the scope of the problem in Europe.

“Because of drug resistance, TB is evolving to become an untreatable disease for a growing number of people,” said Michèle Boccoz, Special Ambassador for fighting against HIV/AIDS and communicable diseases at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development. “Investment in research and development now will allow us to have the drugs and vaccines at hand to eventually end the threat of TB as a health problem in Europe.”

While TB rates in the European Union (EU) are relatively low, the disease persists in every country. And, according to the World Health Organization, the WHO European region as a whole has the highest rates of drug-resistant TB in the world. Nine of the world’s top 30 countries with the highest burden of drug-resistant TB are in eastern European and central Asian countries. The WHO says around 73,000 people in the region are estimated to fall ill with multidrug-resistant TB every year.

“Without tools such as new drugs and vaccines, we know we cannot reach our goals for controlling TB,” said Marja Esveld, senior policy advisor, global health from the Dutch Ministry of Health. “Now is the time to step up the resources to ensure we have the means to effectively end the epidemic and address the emerging threat of drug-resistant TB.”

The AMR Review, a global study of antibiotic resistance data, estimated that, by 2050, drug-resistant TB will be responsible for an additional 2.1 million deaths in Europe at an economic cost of $1.1 trillion. Globally, drug-resistant TB now kills 200,000 people annually, but by 2050, that number could approach 2.5 million.

TB is now the world’s deadliest infectious disease, resulting in 1.8 million deaths in 2015. The economic funding for TB research and development globally, however, has remained flat for the past five years. The WHO estimates that more than $1 billion is needed annually, and an additional $1.7 billion is needed for TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment services.

The WHO’s ambitious End TB Strategy targets reduction in TB deaths by 95 percent and cutting new cases by 90 percent between 2015 and 2035. Under the TB Action Plan for the WHO European Region 2016-2020, an interim target is a 25 percent reduction in new TB cases and a 75 percent treatment success rate among patients with multidrug-resistant TB.

“A major impetus for developing new vaccines against TB is to sidestep the problem of drug resistance. A vaccine would not be affected by whether the TB organism was resistant to drugs because vaccines have an entirely different mode of action in the body,” said Dr. Nick Drager, executive director of TBVI, a European foundation supporting research and development activities for new TB vaccines.

The shortest treatment for forms of drug-resistant TB takes at least nine months and can take up to two years or more. The treatment itself consists of a combination of harsh drugs, given as pills and injections. Fewer than half of all people with multidrug-resistant TB are successfully cured.

“For those people already suffering from drug-resistant TB, more effective, more tolerable, shorter acting, and less expensive treatment options are desperately needed,” said Dr. Mel Spigelman, president and CEO of TB Alliance, a U.S. based nonprofit accelerating development of new TB drug treatments. “To curb drug resistance, we need political will and a commitment of significantly more resources for research and development into new drug treatments.”

The high-level meeting in Brussels—“TB and European Health Security: The critical role of TB R&D in the context of antimicrobial resistance”—was hosted by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport of the Netherlands and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development of France. It was organized by TBVI, TB Alliance, and Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW), a a global development NGO.

The high-level meeting precedes the Global Ministerial Conference on TB to be held in Moscow in November 2017 and the UN high-level meeting on TB in September 2018.




TB Alliance (Global Alliance for TB Drug Development)

TB Alliance is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to finding faster-acting and affordable drug regimens to fight tuberculosis (TB). Through innovative science and with partners around the globe, we aim to ensure equitable access to faster, better TB cures that will advance global health and prosperity. TB Alliance operates with support from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research through KfW, Global Health Innovative Technology Fund, Irish Aid, Indonesia Health Fund, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UNITAID, United Kingdom Department for International Development, United States Agency for International Development, and the United States Food and Drug Administration. For more information, please visit:

TuBerculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI)

The TuBerculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI) is a non-profit foundation that facilitates the discovery and development of new, safe and effective TB vaccines that are accessible and affordable for all people.  As a Product Development Partnership (PDP), TBVI integrates, translates and prioritises R&D efforts to discover and develop new TB vaccines and biomarkers for global use. TBVI provides essential services that support the R&D efforts of its consortium partners – 50 partners from academia, research institutes and private industry in the TB vaccine field. For more information, please visit: 

Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW)

DSW focuses on the needs and potential of the largest youth generation in history. We are committed to creating demand for and access to health information, services and supplies, and to securing their right for a brighter future. We achieve this by engaging in gender sensitive advocacy, capacity development, and family planning initiatives. With our headquarters Germany, DSW maintains offices in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, as well as liaison offices in Berlin and Brussels. DSW also advocates for investment in research and innovation to fight poverty-related and neglected tropical diseases.



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