TB R&D funding way behind target

A patient takes her anti-TB drugs. Photo by: Gary Hampton / WHO / World Lung Foundation Image Library

Close to 4,000 people die every day from tuberculosis, but 2010 investments in researching diagnostics and vaccines for the disease did not even reach half the $2 billion annual target.

The Treatment Action Group and the Stop TB Partnership released Thursday (March 29) the second edition of the “Tuberculosis Research and Development: 2011 Report on Tuberculosis Research Funding Trends.” The report said that in 2010, donors invested only $630.4 million in TB R&D, with 81 percent of total funding coming from only 10 sources.

TAG senior researcher Eleonora Jiménez-Levi said the report identifies the major TB donors and where the funds are invested. It also aims to help policymakers and activists determine areas to target their advocacy efforts.

While drug funding increased 20 percent from $191.5 million in 2009 to $230.5 million in 2010, spending on vaccines fell 29 percent. Public sector funding also dropped 5 percent in the same period from $395.3 million to $376.2 million.

This is not the case in diagnostics. Funding for new diagnostics increased 24 percent from $38.9 million to $48.4 million in 2010. This category, however, lagged in terms of meeting the annual global plan research funding target in 2010. The funding target was $340 million.

At 76 percent, only operational research came close to meeting the annual global target of $80 million. In 2010, funding for this category reached $60.9 million.

Meeting the $2 billion annual mark is important for the Global Partnership to Stop TB to stay on track of its 10-year plan to eliminate TB as a public health threat by 2050. But with meager investments, the cancellation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s 11th funding round last year and the $12 million cut in U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2013 proposed budget for bilateral TB assistance, TAG Executive Director Mark Harrington said TB is in danger of falling off the global health priority map.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.