Spotlight on TB in India: FIND participating in 3 landmark meetings, highlighting importance of diagnostics in fighting this disease

  • The Delhi End TB Summit 2018, a national consultation meeting on an Essential Diagnostics List, and The Lancet Commission on Tuberculosis are all being held in New Delhi this week
  • FIND will be represented at all three events

New Delhi, India12 March 2018 – The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) is participating in three important meetings this week, focused on progress towards ending the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic in line with sustainable development goal (SDG) targets. The Delhi End TB Summit 2018, at which the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, will give the inaugural address, will coincide with a national consultation meeting on an Essential Diagnostics List and the Lancet Commission on Tuberculosis. The three meetings are being held in New Delhi.

TB is the world’s deadliest infectious disease, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Global TB Report 2017, India continues to have the highest number of TB cases in the world.[1] In 2016 alone, 10.4 million people fell ill with the disease globally, with an estimated 2,790,000 patients in India, and up to 4,230,000 patients estimated to have died during the year. “Of the estimated 10.4 million new cases, only 6.3 million were detected and officially notified in 2016, leaving a gap of 4.1 million. India, Indonesia and Nigeria accounted for almost half of this global gap,” the report stated. Worldwide, there were 600,000 new TB cases with resistance to rifampicin—the most effective first-line drug. The spread of drug-resistant (DR)-TB is a major global health challenge, exacerbated by the limited availability of representative DR-TB surveillance data and the lack of rapid, accurate diagnostic tests for comprehensive drug resistance testing.

National Consultation Meeting on an Essential Diagnostics List: 12 March 2018
In 1977, WHO published a Model List of Essential Medicines to improve access to drugs. To date, there has been no similar initiative for diagnostics. While WHO has now begun work on an Essential Diagnostics List (EDL), there is a window of opportunity for India to develop a national EDL and set an example for other countries. There are many potential benefits to an EDL: improving patient care, helping detect outbreaks, increasing affordability of tests, reducing out-of-pocket expenses for tests, reducing antibiotic abuse as part of antimicrobial resistance control, improving regulation and quality of diagnostic tests, strengthening accreditation and quality of laboratories, improving supply chain, and guiding the research and development of new diagnostic tools.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is hosting this National EDL Consultation Meeting. Co-chaired by Dr Kamini Walia, ICMR, and Dr Madhukar Pai, ICMR & McGill Global Health Programs, it will discuss the best approach to developing an EDL, potential benefits and limitations, and other issues relevant to uptake of a national EDL.

Delhi End TB Summit 2018: 13–14 March 2018
This critical TB leadership meeting will be opened by Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi. It will focus on preparations and adoption of statements for the South-East Asia Region and the forthcoming United Nations High-Level Meeting (HLM) on TB later this year. The HLM will bring together Heads of State and governments, and TB stakeholders, to ensure that the momentum, political will and resources are in place to meet the SDG goal of ending the TB epidemic by 2030. The Delhi End TB Summit will be immediately followed by the Stop TB Partnership Board Meeting on 14–15 March 2018.

Lancet Commission on Tuberculosis: 15–17 March 2018
The Lancet Commission on Tuberculosis has been set up to evaluate progress towards eliminating TB, integrating available epidemiologic, programmatic and economic data to assess whether specific countries are on track with the recommendations of the WHO global strategy. It will determine the kinds of intervention necessary to accelerate progress to achieve targets outlined in the End TB strategy, including assessing the necessary research innovation and donor funding needed to escalate existing efforts. It will also develop policy recommendations to inform the country-specific investment case in addition to the global funding required to achieve these goals.

The Commission is chaired by Dr Eric Goosby, Director of the Institute for Global Health Delivery and Diplomacy in Global Health Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and UN Special Envoy on Tuberculosis. Commission co-chairs are Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director General of Programmes at WHO and Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research, and Professor Dean Jamison, Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington and senior fellow in Global Health Sciences at UCSF. This will be the third time the Commission has met, and publication of their findings is anticipated ahead of the UN HLM later this year.

“This is a very significant week for those of us working on TB in India and we are pleased that so many high-level people are involved,” said Dr Sanjay Sarin, Head of FIND India. “We are excited to have the opportunity to make sure that critical role of diagnostics in combatting the TB epidemic is fully considered in these fora.”

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About FIND
FIND was established in 2003 as a global non-profit dedicated to accelerating the development, evaluation and delivery of high-quality, affordable diagnostic tests for poverty-related diseases, now including malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, sleeping sickness, hepatitis C, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, Buruli ulcer, non-malarial fever and diseases with outbreak potential, such as Ebola. FIND has partnered in the delivery of 20 new diagnostic tools and created an enabling environment for numerous others through the provision of specimen banks, reagent development and better market visibility. FIND also supports better access to new diagnostics through implementation, quality assurance and lab strengthening work. FIND has nearly 200 partners globally, including research institutes and laboratories, health ministries and national disease control programmes, commercial partners, bilateral and multilateral organizations, especially WHO, and clinical trial sites.

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[1] WHO. Global TB Report 2017.