A busy December wraps up an action-packed year, and we end on a high note with the news that our team in India has just been awarded the prestigious Public Health Initiative prize at the India Health & Wellness Summit and Awards, recognizing our work in paediatric TB diagnostics.
Last month we announced the launch of our AMR Accelerator, headed by Professor Piero Olliaro who joins us from WHO, alongside new AMR initiatives in companion diagnostics for gonorrhea, and to protect against substandard and falsified medicines. Pandemic preparedness remains a hot topic, with global health security featuring strongly on the agendas of many major events this year, including the African Society of Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) meeting last week (10–13 December). There we hosted a symposium on the role of the laboratory in preventing and controlling viral epidemics and viral pandemics, alongside key scientific presentations.
Also this month we kicked off our HEAD-Start project in India with the Institute of Liver & Biliary Sciences (ILBS), to enhance availability and accessibility of HCV tests in the National Capital Region of Delhi.
We have focused a lot this year on the importance of integration, a critical topic that encompasses elements such as lab strengthening, clinical trial capacity building and health systems support – all strong suits of ours, and featured not just in our emerging threats programme, but also notably for TB, malaria and fever, and HCV. Our neglected tropical diseases programme expanded into schistosomiasis, a disease affecting 240 million people yet without effective diagnostics (announcement of our first projects coming soon). We have also continued to play our part in bringing sleeping sickness elimination ever closer, with essential surveillance in countries including Uganda and DRC.
And of course it has been a huge year for TB, which took centre stage at the UN General Assembly in September – where we announced a call for trial partners to support development of a new, potentially transformational, TB LAM test. The recently published TAG report even showed that funding for TB R&D is starting to show an uptick, although we are still far short of the US$1.3M annual funding gap that must be filled to hit global TB targets, so we cannot rest on our laurels.
Our work in connectivity also ramped up this year, with the launch of SIMplicity back in February, and this month, together with WHO, we convened a key workshop to define the role of electronic clinical decision-support algorithms in translating diagnostic results into therapeutic decisions. The meeting brought together researchers, software developers, implementers, government officials and representatives from international organizations and funding agencies.
Under the auspices of the Dx Ambassadors, we are also excited to have established the Voices for Diagnosis annual prize, to recognize individuals and organizations that implement innovative approaches to improve access to and create demand for timely, cost-effective diagnostic solutions. The closing date for 2018/19 entries is 31 March 2019 and we invite applications at www.finddx.org/voices.
There’s so much more that I don’t have space to mention here. But none of our work would be possible without the expertise and continued dedication of all our partners, donors, and of course our staff. To you all: thank you.
I wish you all a peaceful holiday season, and a healthy and happy 2019.