‘Game Changer’ Tuberculosis Drug Cures 9 In 10

Expert Advocates More Measures To Curb Tuberculosis

 

A new treatment for a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis can cure more than 90 per cent of sufferers, according to a trial hailed Monday as a “game changer” in the fight against the global killer.

Doctors in Belarus — a country with one of the highest rates of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in the world — spent months treating patients with a new drug, bedaquiline, alongside other antibiotics.

The results, seen exclusively by AFP, were startling: Of the 181 patients given the new drug, 168 were totally cured.

The World Health Organization says currently only 55 per cent of people with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis are successfully treated.

The Belarus trial success rate – 93 per cent – was largely replicated in bedaquiline trials in other countries in eastern Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia, according to abstracts seen by AFP, due to be unveiled at a major tuberculosis conference later this week.

“The results from this study confirm… that newer drugs like bedaquiline can cure and are game changers for people living with multidrug-resistant and extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis,” Paula Fujiwara, scientific director of The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease who was not involved in the research, told AFP.

Lead researcher Alena Skrahina, from the Republican Research and Practical Centre for Pulmonology and TB in Minsk, called the bedaquiline results “promising”.

“Generally, our study confirms the effectiveness of bedaquiline in previous clinical trials, and does not confirm the concerns about safety problems,” she told AFP.

Tuberculosis killed at least 1.7 million people in 2017, according to the WHO, making the airborne infection the world’s deadliest infectious disease.

It kills more than three times as many people as malaria every year and is responsible for the majority of HIV/AIDS deaths.

Despite the huge death toll, tuberculosis receives roughly a tenth of the global research funding that goes to HIV/AIDS.

Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis is immune to two of the most common antibacterial drugs used to treat the disease.

Experts believe it is spreading worldwide due to poor handling of tuberculosis cases.

Unlike other global killers such as HIV, tuberculosis is curable — but currently only under a strict six-month supervised regimen involving multiple daily drug doses.

In many parts of the world, medications are incorrectly stored, or simply run out before the treatment has finished, leading to greater drug resistance, especially in crowded settings such as prison and hospitals.

The WHO says variants of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis have been reported in at least 117 countries around the world.

$13 Billion Pledge

Unlike many antibiotics, bedaquiline doesn’t attack the bacteria directly and instead targets the enzymes that the disease relies on for its energy.

All of the patients in the study experienced side effects but these were less severe than previously thought.

Last month UN member states agreed a global plan to fight tuberculosis and to facilitate cheaper access to vital drugs.

On the sidelines of the General Assembly in New York, world leaders pledged $13 billion annually to end the tuberculosis epidemic, with a further $2 billion to fund research — up from $700 million currently.

Unlike the battle against HIV, which has received high-profile celebrity backing, tuberculosis is often seen as a historic affliction affecting only remote and undeveloped parts of the world.

Scientists and policymakers gather this week in The Hague for a global conference on lung health, where they are expected to warn that tuberculosis could spread through richer nations currently struggling with non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

India alone accounts for a quarter of all tuberculosis cases, and there are hopes that new, cheaper drugs could help strangle the spread of the disease if rolled out worldwide.

“We urgently need more affordable drugs like bedaquiline if we are to seriously make a dent in curing the estimated 600,000 people falling sick to multidrug-resistant tuberculosis each year and avoiding nearly a quarter of a million deaths,” said Fujiwara.

Buhari Calls For Collaboration To Fight Tuberculosis

President Muhammadu Buhari speaks on fight against Tuberculosis

 

President Muhammadu Buhari, has called on world leaders to collaborate and fight tuberculosis.

The President advocated the need for a global synergy that will connect national responses and require new drugs for the disease.

President Buhari made the call On Wednesday when he spoke at a high-level meeting on the Fight Against Tuberculosis, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The Theme of the meeting is “United To End Tuberculosis: An Urgent Global Epidemic”

Other leaders who attended include Presidents of Kenya, Zimbabwe, Namibia and the Central African Republic.

Expert Advocates More Measures To Curb Tuberculosis

Expert Advocates More Measures To Curb Tuberculosis
courtesy: www.bolopakistan.pk

A medical expert, Alex Nkwuda, has advocated more precautionary measures to members of the public in order to curb the spread of tuberculosis.

He made the advocacy in an interview to commemorate World Tuberculosis Day in Lafia, the Nasarawa state capital.

The 2017 Tuberculosis Day themed: “Unite To End Tuberculosis”, was focussed on leaving no stone unturned to save lives.

Speaking on the significance of the day, the expert said it is mostly observed to sensitise the public on the dangers of the disease and how it affects the lives of humans.

Mr Nkwuda stated that the communicable disease could be contracted in an overcrowded environment and also through having a close contact with an infected person although it is curable.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO), has decided to map out strategies to put an end to the disease because it is actually curable and can be stopped.

“They are trying to map out strategies to see how they can unite with health workers, government, individuals, communities and social organisations to see how to end the disease”, he stated.

He, however, called the public to take health precautions such as sleeping in ventilated rooms, eating balanced diets and taking regular vaccination as well as going for regular check up to ascertain their status.

Mr Nkwuda also made a case for synergy between government and non-governmental organisations towards intensifying sensitisation efforts so as to curtail the disease collectively.

The World Tuberculosis Day is one of the eight official global health campaigns designated by the W.H.O to create enlightenment that tuberculosis remains an epidemic in most parts of the world which causes the death of nearly 1.5 million people each year.

Kaduna State Government Commissions Disease Control Centre

Gov-Ramalan-Yero1The Kaduna State Government has launched an Infectious Disease Control Centre (IDCC) as part of efforts to tackle the challenges of emerging and re-emerging diseases in the state.

The State Deputy Governor, Nuhu Bajoga, representing the Governor at the commissioning ceremony, said that Kaduna state is fully prepared and well positioned to tackle any disease outbreak in the state.

Mr Bajoga said the aim of setting up the centre is to ensure that those suffering from any communicable disease are isolated for proper treatment, in order not to transmit such ailments to the rest of the society as well as protecting the susceptible ones through routine immunization.

The Deputy Governor, while calling on the health personnel at the centre to treat their patients with dignity and compassion, assured the patients of best treatment and attention.

He also guaranteed those living very close to the Disease Control Centre of adequate safety, stating that the centre had been equipped in line with best international standard.

The Centre is expected to focus on communicable diseases such as meningitis, HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Malaria, Tuberculosis, other neglected tropical diseases, emerging diseases, epidemics, and potential pandemics.

The Kaduna State Commissioner for Health, Dr Thot Dogo, said the Disease Control Centre would contain the spread of the infectious diseases.

He stated further that adequate safety measures had been put in place at the centre to ensure the safety of the health care providers.

A representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), Mrs Charity Warigon, present at the event commended the State Government for setting up the centre.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 60 per cent of deaths in West Africa are as a result of communicable diseases, blamed on lack of trained laboratory technicians and facilities that hamper diagnosis.

African Union Summit Begins In Abuja

President Goodluck Jonathan will on Monday play host to heads of states and governments from the African Union at the Abuja +12 special summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and other related infectious diseases.

Some of the AU heads of state and government arrived Nigeria on Sunday ahead of today’s meeting though ministers and other delegates from the union have been holding technical sessions over the weekend.

The theme of the summit is “Ownership, accountability and sustainability of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria response in Africa: Past Present and the Future”.

In 2001, the African Union organized a summit of its heads of state and government on HIV/AIDS which culminated in the Abuja declaration of commitment on HIV/AIDS by which African leaders among others things, pledged to allocate 15 percent of their annual budgets to the improvement of the health sector.

12 years on, today’s summit will be taking stock and assessing the extent to which these commitments and targets have been achieved in order to chart a way forward.

Nigeria Has Highest TB Disease Burden In Africa – NMA

The Nigerian Medical Association on Sunday released a press statement calling on the Federal Government to make the fight against Tuberculosis one of its Centenary anniversary projects by massively investing in TB research activities towards the discovery of the much needed anti-TB vaccine.

As part of the group’s efforts to mark the 2013 World Tuberculosis Day, themed ‘In My Life Time,’ the President of the association, Dr. Osahon Enabulele said different stakeholders in the society need to wake up to the reality that Nigeria has the highest TB disease burden in Africa and 10th largest in the whole world.

“We therefore call on the federal government to accord top priority to budgetary allocations to the health sector by complying with the Abuja declaration of 2001 by allocating the prescribed 15% of Nigeria’s national budget to health care. This we believe, with sanity in public spending, would help to positively address many if not all, of Nigeria’s diseases of public health concern that continue to denigrate the image of our beloved country, Nigeria.” The statement read.

According to the 2012 global TB report, considerable progress has been made all over the world despite the insurgence of HIV/AIDS considered hitherto as a major impediment to the control efforts.

However, the statement disclosed that “communal violence, sectoral clashes, various forms of insurgences, natural disasters and deleterious effects of climate change, unhealthy living conditions; tend to paint a sordid picture for the future of anti-TB campaign in reality.”

Dr. Enabuelele emphasized the need for the Government to take heed to the slogan ‘Stop Tb In My Life Time’ and called on research organisations to give greater attention to Nigerian prone issues like TB.

Mandela Recovers From Surgery And Lung Infection

Former South African President Nelson Mandela has recovered from a lung infection and surgery (to remove gallstones) that kept him in hospital for nearly three weeks.

Mandela who is 94, has been in frail health for several years, spent most of December in a Pretoria hospital – his longest stay for medical care since his release from prison in 1990.

He has been receiving treatment at his Johannesburg home after he left hospital on December 26.

“President Mandela has made steady progress and clinically, he continues to improve,” the Office of the Presidency said in a statement.

Mandela had recovered from his surgical procedure and the lung infection, it said, citing his medical team. He has made steady progress and was slowly returning to his daily routine.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mandela has a history of lung problems dating back to when he contracted Tuberculosis as a political prisoner. He spent 27 years in prison, including 18 years on the windswept Robben Island off Cape Town.

He became South Africa’s first black president after the first all-race elections in 1994 which brought an end to apartheid.

Reuters

15 million Nigerians suffer from chest-related diseases

No fewer than fifteen million Nigerians are currently suffering from asthma, tuberculosis and other chest related diseases.

The national president of Nigerian Thoracic Society; Professor Greg Erhosa announced this while briefing newsmen at an annual national conference of the society in Ilorin.

He attributed the high number of Nigerians suffering from asthma and other chest diseases to lack of preventive measures adding that the chronic disease has claimed lives of several eminent Nigerians and the downtrodden.

The need for the establishment of thoracic health centres in each of the six geopolitical zones in the country he believed would address the challenges while also urging the three tiers of governments to set aside funds for the prevention and care of the chest related disease

Bill Gates says much more work needed to turn tide of AIDS

Philanthropist and AIDS prevention advocate Bill Gates said on Monday there had been significant advances in the fight against HIV/AIDS, but he was not ready to say the world was “turning the tide” on the disease, the theme of this week’s International AIDS Conference.

Gates said the trajectory of the disease had certainly improved, noting figures the United Nations released last week showing global AIDS deaths last year fell to 1.7 million, down from 1.8 million in 2010.

But that still means far too many people are dying from AIDS, the multibillionaire co-founder of Microsoft Corp told Reuters in an interview at his offices in Washington, the host city of this year’s AIDS conference.

“Is the end clearly in sight? No. Do we have the tools that will bring about the end? No,” said Gates.

He said wealthy nations, which have been the primary engine for funding the research and the delivery of life-saving drugs to 8 million poor people, faced financial challenges that threatened AIDS funding.

If anything, now is the time to make sure AIDS remains a funding priority “despite the toughness that is out there,” he said.

According to the U.N. report, funding for HIV prevention and treatment totaled $16.8 billion last year, with $8.2 billion coming from wealthy international sources, including the United States, which donated nearly half of it.

But poor and middle-income countries are shouldering more of the HIV burden, spending $8.6 billion last year, surpassing the contributions of affluent donor nations for the first time.

So far, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has handed out

$2.5 billion in HIV grants, and committed a further $1.4 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The biggest chunk of the foundation’s HIV spending is on an HIV vaccine, one of the tools Gates sees as essential to ending the AIDS epidemic.

Gates, who met with vaccine experts on Monday, said they were making “really good progress,” but they still needed to come up with a good vaccine candidate and then test it in a series of clinical trials.

“There is a very good chance it will be a decade plus before we’ll have the thing,” he said.

REUTERS

FG to bar officials from foreign medical trips

Travelling abroad for medical treatment with public funds may not be so easy for public officers any more, if the federal government approves a planned law to that effect.

The Minister of Health Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu disclosed this to journalists in Abuja at a meeting on the state of the nation’s health sector where he stated that the ministry is preparing a memo for the Federal Executive council, which will stop public officers from wasting public funds on foreign medical trips.

Prof Chukwu lamented the rate at which Nigerians travel abroad for health care even when they can get the same treatment at home.

“I am preparing a memo which will soon be presented to the council to stop public officers from foreign medical treatment. If a public officer says no, I don’t want treatment in Nigeria, I want to travel abroad for treatment, no problem, you are free but you will not use public funds for that so long as it can be done in Nigeria”.

He however noted that the only exception, will be a situation where the capacity to handle such a medical problem does not exist in Nigeria. “The only exception will be given, when it has been certified that we do not have the capacity to address the problem here in the country and the official can prove that he/she will be using personal funds.”

According to him, “people travel out of this country to treat kidney stones which we do not even need surgery to treat anymore at the National hospital Abuja.” He further add that all forms of surgeries are now carried out at the National Hospital Abuja, including laser surgery.

The Minister with regret alleged that some level of fraud has also been introduced into the foreign medical trips ripping ill Nigerians of their money.

According to him, some doctors connive with foreign hospitals to rip-off Nigerian patients by referring such patients to those foreign hospitals and agree with such Nigerian doctors to be paid between 10-15 per cent of the medical bills as kickback.

He also noted that many doctors, health professionals and patients are ignorant of medical facilities and expertise available in the country and that some of the cases for which many people travel abroad can be effectively treated in Nigeria.

The Minister, who himself is a medical doctor, boasted that “as Honourable Minister of Health, none of my relatives has been referred abroad.”

Maternal and child mortality

Professor Chukwu also declared that progress has been recorded in reducing the scourge of HIV/AIDS and Malaria, he however noted that maternal and child mortality as well as Tuberculosis remains a challenge.

Also the Minister of state for health, Dr Muhammad Ali Pate has called for the support of the private sector in the provision of quality health services to Nigerians.

He made the plea at a meeting with a Japanese delegation in Abuja, where said that despite efforts by the federal government for the provision of world class medical facilities in the country, a lot still needs to be done to meet the health needs of Nigerians.

Members of the Japanese delegation promised to renew its ties with Nigeria in the area of polio eradication.