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The Hummingbird Unitaid News - September 2018

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CONTENT

1- How Unitaid and partners are tackling 3 key challenges in TB

2- Peru pioneers new treatment for drug-resistant TB – a photo story

3 - Meet Stéphanie Seydoux, France's new Ambassador for Global Health

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how unitaid and partners are tackling 3 KEY CHALLENGES IN TB

Countries have committed to reducing the incidence of tuberculosis by 90 percent between 2015 and 2035 as part of the WHO End TB Strategy. But hitting global TB targets now depends on the ability to reach millions of underserved people with adequate prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

The first UN high-level meeting on TB is over, but the fight continues. Here are three key challenges Unitaid and partners are tackling to advance towards a TB-free world:

TB Prevention

Globally, about 1 in 3 people have latent TB, which is the reservoir of the epidemic. Widening the use of shorter, less-toxic and oral preventive therapies such as 3HP will be crucial to break the transmission cycle and defeat drug resistance. Unitaid is investing US$ 59 million in next-generation regimens that cut treatment time from three years to three months.

Childhood TB

In 2015, one million children had TB, but two thirds were undiagnosed or unreported. Paediatric TB is especially difficult to diagnose because it is very hard for children to produce sputum samples, which in addition, may have a low bacterial load. This is why we are investing US$ 51 million to bring new diagnostic tools closer to where children live and integrate TB screening into other health services.

Multidrug-resistant TB

MDR-TB has low cure rates, and older treatments still in use for MDR-TB are long and painful. We are investing over US$ 80 million to expand access to the first TB drugs developed in half a century, which are set to revolutionize MDR-TB treatment worldwide. We will announce further new investments in MDR-TB later this year.

Our active TB portfolio is worth US$ 215 million and is expected to reach US$300 million by 2020. Grants aim to speed access to innovative solutions for latent, drug-resistant and childhood TB.
Unitaid is the biggest multilateral actor investing in TB research & development

Peru pioneers new treatment for drug-resistant TB

How next-generation regimens could turn the tide on multidrug-resistant TB

Peru is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Its capital, Lima, tucked between the Pacific Ocean and surrounding valleys, bustles with trendy restaurants, cafés, museums, shops, and lots of traffic.

Close to 10 million people live in Lima today and the population is growing. But most of Lima’s 43 districts remain poor.

These communities face a growing health threat – multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

Tuberculosis, a highly contagious airborne disease, thrives in overcrowded places with poor ventilation, like in the slums of El Agustino.

The endTB project is expanding access to a new generation of MDR-TB treatment, featuring an all-oral regimen with fewer side effects and increased adherence.

Hugo, 16, has been fighting extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) for two years. He abandoned treatment after a year because of the severe side effects he had from an injectable drug, but started on a new treatment with the support of Socios en Salud, the Peruvian office of Partners in Health.

Hugo is lucky to be taking part in endTB’s observational study on bedaquiline and delamanid, the first new TB drugs developed in 50 years.

Nowadays, Hugo is feeling much better. His new treatment is less toxic and includes the cutting-edge drug bedaquiline.

“I want to become a human rights lawyer when I grow up to help people who cannot help themselves,” says Hugo.

The endTB project is also undertaking a clinical trial to test shorter MDR-TB regimens with the new drugs bedaquiline and delamanid. The new MDR-TB regimen would cut the treatment time from two years to nine months.

Humberto Guerrero Sandoval, a 50-year-old bus station worker, joined the endTB clinical trial in Peru after abandoning his previous treatment for MDR-TB. He was cured of the disease after completing a new, nine-month, injection-free regimen.

Humberto is very grateful for the care he received from Merilyn, a Socios en Salud health worker, who visited him daily to ensure he took his treatment. His greatest hope now is to stay TB-free.

Socios en Salud rolled out the endTB project in Peru in 2016 to help patients with MDR-TB access new, better regimens. “We see the suffering of patients every single day. They need treatment that is less toxic and shorter so they can get on with their lives,” says executive director Dr Leonid Lecca.

The new, all-oral regimen for MDR-TB is a ground-breaking innovation that cuts treatment time from two years to nine months, increases adherence and reduces resistance to drugs.
The endTB project is implemented in 17 countries by Partners In Health, Médecins Sans Frontières and Interactive Research and Development with support from Unitaid.

MEET STÉPHANIE Seydoux

New French Ambassador for Global Health

Photo: WHO

Stéphanie Seydoux took over as French representative to Unitaid's boards earlier this year. She will continue focusing on the three global epidemics, but the change in her title —from Ambassador for HIV and Non-Communicable Diseases to Ambassador for Global Health— signals a more holistic approach to health issues.

As the fight against HIV, TB and malaria enters a more advanced phase, we caught up with Seydoux in Paris to discuss her views on global health. Here's what she had to say:

On impact:

To bring health innovations to scale, we need to identify the options with the most potential, prove they work and come up with a viable economic model so they can reach millions of people, sustainably.

On innovation:

The French identity is defined, among other things, by a spirit of innovation; an ethos that is also part of our strategy to make the global health response more effective.

On integration:

We must build on our work on the HIV, TB and malaria epidemics to strengthen health systems as a whole and to advance universal health coverage. The change in my title --from French Ambassador for HIV and NCDs to Ambassador of Global Health-- reflects that.

On the fight against HIV:

France will maintain an extremely high level of financial investment in multilateral organizations, and ramp up political engagement and visibility in global health matters.

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