One of the biggest complaints by anti-TB advocates has been the lack of new tools to aid them in the fight against tuberculosis, a centuries-old disease that continues to take the lives of an estimated 1.5 million people every year.
And it’s not difficult to understand why. Given all the money, information and technology available today, there is just one tuberculosis vaccine and only for children. Drugs to treat the disease are increasingly facing more aggressive and resistant bacteria. And microscopes continue to be the primary tool to detect TB in most countries — the same tool German physicist and Nobel Prize recipient Robert Koch used when he discovered the bacteria that causes tuberculosis in 1882.
Unfortunately, it is precisely the lack of money and adequate tools that brought the fight against tuberculosis to a standstill. While international financing for TB has grown since 2002, it remains a paltry sum compared with the vast amounts of money channeled to other infectious diseases, such as HIV and AIDS.
Based on estimates by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, aid that went to TB activities reached $1.37 billion in 2014. In the same year, funding for HIV and AIDS totaled $10.9 billion.
Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex senior reporter based in Manila. Since 2011, she has covered a wide range of development and humanitarian aid issues, from leadership and policy changes at DfID to the logistical and security impediments faced by international and local aid responders in disaster-prone and conflict-affected countries in Africa and Asia. Her interests include global health and the analysis of aid challenges and trends in sub-Saharan Africa.
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