Monday, 30 March 2015

Impending New Child-Friendly TB Treatments

TB Alliance has announced a new partnership with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF that will dramatically increase the scope and impact of child and maternal health programs around the world to include the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric tuberculosis (TB), a significant cause of child mortality.

“Pediatric TB has stayed in the shadows for far too long,” said Caryl Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “We are thrilled to be working with TB Alliance to deliver new treatments that children around the world so desperately need and that will help us improve child survival.”

The collaboration will help elevate childhood TB as a priority issue to improve child survival and integrate TB within UNICEF’s child health services around the world. It will also facilitate the uptake of the first appropriate, child-friendly TB treatments that TB Alliance and its partners are developing, as part of a broader partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), and which correspond to WHO’s recommended treatment guidelines.

“Today, there are no appropriate TB treatments for children,” said Mel Spigelman, MD, President and CEO of TB Alliance. “The partnership with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF will help ensure the new treatments coming to market can reach sick children, who can then be treated and cured.”

TB Alliance, in concert with other partners, has been working to better understand the burden of disease in children and address other issues that prevent access to TB treatment. Current estimates highlight that at least 550,000 children suffer from TB and as many as 53 million are latently infected.

UNICEF, TB Alliance, and WHO will now work together to facilitate uptake of the new child-friendly TB treatments, which are expected to reach the market in 2016. The new treatments are expected to be included in the UNICEF supply chain, one of the world’s largest purchaser and supplier of medicines and vaccines for children. The partnership will also connect the health providers in UNICEF’s global network with better educational tools and information on pediatric TB with the goal of integrating TB into existing initiatives that address maternal and child health and pediatric HIV/AIDS.

“Bringing together the relevant partners, we have an extraordinary opportunity to tackle the issue of pediatric TB,” said Mario Raviglione, MD, Director of the WHO's Global TB Programme. “We look forward to this expanded collaboration, and the impact it can have on improving TB treatment and reducing childhood mortality from TB.”

In 2013, with support from UNITAID and USAID, TB Alliance and WHO launched an initiative to improve pediatric TB treatment and reduce child mortality. The initiative aims to deliver new, correctly formulated, child-friendly TB treatments, while enhancing the market understanding needed to accelerate the time in which new and better treatments will reach children in need. This new initiative with UNICEF allows the expansion of this work by leveraging UNICEF’s global reach and presence in countries with high TB burdens.

Posted by Tim Sandle