The last mile: leading research and policy to eliminate the world’s deadliest infectious disease

Each year, more people are killed by tuberculosis (TB) than any other infectious disease. Nearly 4,500 people lose their lives to TB every day and close to 30,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease.

World TB Day takes place each year on March 24 to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB, and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic. Much headway has been made over the last several decades to better prevent, diagnose and treat TB, but more work needs to be done.

We’re actively leading research and advocacy initiatives that contribute to eliminating TB once and for all. We’re doing this by:

  • Ensuring people in Tanzania with suspected TB have access to the testing and treatment they require to manage the disease at an earlier stage and get them back to health as quickly as possible. (IBUA TB)
  • Improving the safe use of drugs to treat multi-drug resistant TB in Africa by supporting African health systems to effectively monitor and evaluate the safety of new medications locally (PAVIA)
  • Seeking to better understand why the protection afforded by the current TB vaccine, BCG, is hugely different across the world. Master’s intern Dael Gunterman is conducting a meta-analysis of data reported in more than 60 global studies to gain insight into what causes the vaccine to be less effective for people in some regions in order to develop better TB vaccines for the future.
  • Partnering with expert researchers across the TB spectrum through the Amsterdam Tuberculosis Center to coordinate and streamline efforts for maximum impact.
  • Holding leadership positions and helping shape research programs at international TB events including as co-chair of TB2018, co-chair for TBScience 2018 and 2019 and local co-chair for the Union World Conference on Lung Health last year.
  • Educating and inspiring the next generation of TB scientists through a unique course offered by TBnet, which AIGHD co-founded and is currently the chair of (Frank van Leth).
  • Seeking out impactful policy positions to influence change such as membership on the Scientific Advisory Board of the TB Vaccine Initiative (TBVI).

“TB continues to be a major global problem, despite the fact there are tools and resources available to diagnose, treat and prevent the disease. If we want to eliminate it for good, we need to approach it in non-traditional ways,” said prof. Frank Cobelens.

“The work we’re doing looks at new avenues for TB control and elimination, including focusing on prevention, better understanding drug resistance so effective treatment can be provided and evaluating new drugs and tests.”

For more information on our work in this field, visit our project page.