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European Union
TB vaccine one step closer as a result of effective EU research and development

TB vaccine one step closer as a result of effective EU research and development

European scientists are one step closer to delivering a new, safe and more effective vaccine against tuberculosis developed through EU research funding, according to a press release from the European Commission published yesterday.  The live vaccine, MTBCAC, is the  first to be based on Mycobacterium tuberculosis; a strongly weakened version of the bacterium that causes TB. It should stimulate the human immune system to recognise and eventually prevent TB infection. The TuBerculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI), who took part in the pre-clinical development of the vaccine, explain the trial as a big win for scientists all over Europe as the first candidate of its kind ever to be tested in humans. Significantly, the press release symbolises how the vaccine pipeline for TB is better then it ever has been. Along with MTBVAC, MVA85A – the most advanced TB vaccine – is currently in phase 2b trials with results due later this year.  Both of these, whether or not they go any further in the clinical trial stage, undoubtedly serve to advance TB vaccine research even further. If MTBVAC does manage to pass tests and shows good immune responses, it will be able to move to the next phase of evaluation that More…

Take action and protect the EU development budget!

Take action and protect the EU development budget!

ONE, a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organisation that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, has launched a petition encouraging people to take action and help protect lifesaving European aid. European leaders are currently negotiating the next seven years of the EU budget, including the amount dedicated to EU development aid. While €60 billion per year has been proposed for pro-poor development and humanitarian aid,  some leaders are proposing cuts. ONE states that latest reports say that EU aid could be cut by 30%. This threatens the existence of initiatives such as the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) and the European Development Fund (EDF), both of which have been extremely successful in effectively distributing aid throughout the world. ONE have outlined how effective EU aid has been in the past decade as a means of ensuring that we take action and sign their petition and, subsequently, that European leaders take action and protect the EU aid budget. As is stated, Between 2004 and 2009, EU aid has helped enroll more than 9 million children in primary education, vaccinated 5.5 million children against measles, and connected more than 31 million people to clean water. Significantly, these tremendous achievements were only costing each EU citizen €2 a month in More…

EU must do more in poverty-related and neglected disease research and development

EU must do more in poverty-related and neglected disease research and development

The critical role played by the EU in research and development (R&D) of poverty-related and neglected diseases has been highlighted in an engaging report and accompanying video, released last week. Significant strides made over the past few decades in the developing world are recognised as a direct result of the EU’s commitment to both world leading research and the development of new drugs. As a result of this commitment, in the past few decades the world has witnessed a 25% reduction in levels of malaria, polio is close to being eradicated and new centres of expertise have emerged all over Latin America, Africa and Asia. Significantly, the video makes note of the fact that in 2010 malaria deaths fell by 335,000. This dramatic decrease can, at least in part, be attributed to the development of Coartem Dispersible, a malaria drug specifically made for children and developed through a  partnership of EU member states and pharmaceutical companies. Continued commitment from the EU and associated parties is vital if we are to see such progress with regards to other PRNDs, such as TB. Successes like that of Coartem Disperisble are critical. However, due to the continuation of the global economic crisis, the More…

MEPs call for EU development aid to take into account social inequalities

MEPs call for EU development aid to take into account social inequalities

A recent press release from MEPs has challenged  European Commission proposals that countries could be selected for bilateral development aid on the basis of per-capita income. Under plans to overhaul EU development aid in 2014  EU bilateral aid would no longer be available to ‘upper-middle income countries’, many of which have considerable socio-economic problems. As the release states, some of the 19 countries that the Commission plans to axe from its list of aid programmes on the basis of ‘gross national income per capita’ still face ‘enormous poverty and inequality challenges’

Call to EU Leadership on Global Health Research and Development

Call to EU Leadership on Global Health Research and Development

Twenty-three NGOs, including members of the TB Europe Coalition, have come together to call upon the leadership of the EU to support recent WHO recommendations for a clear and effective roadmap towards an international funding commitment for poverty-related and neglected disease (PRND) research and development (R&D). By joining forces with existing national and international initiatives as well as prioritising global health R&D, it is proposed there will be greater coordination that will result in the EU helping to address the highly fragmented landscape that currently exists in health research: “We believe that the EU could become a major player by joining forces with existing national and international initiatives, coordinating and complementing these regional and national efforts in order to ensure that global health products are delivered to patients in a fast and efficient manner.” The EU ultimately has the chance to take a leading position in delivering more effective, fair and efficient treatment with regards to poverty-related and neglected diseases, such as TB. The full document can be downloaded here.

TB identified as a top priority in fighting the biggest killer diseases

TB identified as a top priority in fighting the biggest killer diseases

Research released by the Copenhagen Consensus Center yesterday identified TB as a key priority for infectious disease control in terms of cost effectiveness and disease burden. The paper points out that the majority of TB deaths occur among adults in their economically most productive years, which can be an instigator for a family falling into poverty. Addressing TB is therefore of utmost importance, especially considering how cost effective TB interventions are. Failing to adequately control TB has led to the emergence of drug resistant strains of the disease. Drug resistant strains are 100 times more costly and extremely difficult to treat. The rise of drug resistant TB has been a particular problem in Eastern Europe where the collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in health systems that were starved of resources and subsequently were unable to appropriately manage TB cases. In summary, the study found that: “The spread of HIV infection in parts of Africa and drug resistance suggest that the current approach might not be able to bring TB under control, especially in Africa and the former Soviet Union countries. Addressing resistance increases costs and the short-term benefits in saved lives are limited. This means that compared to 2008, More…

European Union Standards of Care for TB Developed

European Union Standards of Care for TB Developed

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Respiratory Society (ERS) have jointly developed the ‘European Union Standards for Tuberculosis Care (ESTC)’, standards intended to guide clinicians and public health workers to delivery optimal prevention, diagnosis and treatment of TB. After gaps in case management were identified in a recent survey, a panel of 30 international experts worked to produce the 21 standards adapted for EU settings and practices. TB kills seven people in Europe every hour and 74,000 cases of TB were identified in the EU/EEA in 2010 alone, clearly demonstrating that TB continues to be a European public health threat. Drug resistant strains of TB in particular continue to pose a significant challenge to public health in some European countries. Drug resistant TB occurs when TB cases are inappropriately managed and there is a failure to ensure that patients complete their full course of treatment. Multidrug- and extensively-drug resistant TB, strains which are resistant to first and second line drugs respectively, are much more costly and difficult – sometimes even impossible – to treat. Diagnosing and treating TB cases early and appropriately saves lives and translates into value for money by avoiding the emergence More…

High-level debate in the European Parliament on the implementation of a Financial Transaction Tax for health and development

In the running up to the G20, the European Parliament Working Group on Innovation, Access to Medicines and Poverty-Related Diseases organised a lunch debate on 18 October on “Innovative Financing Mechanisms for Health: Why Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) should not drift away from benefiting international development and health”. The panel consisted of prominent speakers starting from Philippe Douste-Blazy (former French Minister of Health, chairman of UNITAID as well as current UN Under-Secretary-General Special Adviser on Innovative Financing for Development), Member of European Parliament David Martin (Chair of the Working Group), David Hillman (Coordinator of the NGO Stamp Out Poverty) and Manfred Bergman (European Commission’s Directorate-General of Taxation and Customs Union). Unfortunately, the Directorate General for Development and Cooperation of the European Commission was nowhere to be seen despite being invited. After the European Commission (EC) published its Communication on a European FTT last month, civil society started opening the debate on the allocation of the revenues generated by such a tax. 61% of Europeans agree to the implementation of an FTT, of which a large proportion supports an FTT for development, global health, and climate change. Unfortunately the official stand of the EC as stated by Manfred Bergmann is that More…

Outcome of the roundtable on drug-resistant TB and TB-HIV coinfection at the European Parliament

On 13 April, a roundtable on drug-resistant TB and TB-HIV coinfection on the EU’s doorstep was organised at the European Parliament. The event was hosted by the European Parliament Working Group on Innovation, Access to Medicines and Poverty-Related Diseases and aimed to alert on the high prevalence of multi-drug resistant TB and TB/HIV coinfection in Ukraine and other neighbooring countries. Members of the European Parliament, the European External Action Service, WHO Europe, Médecins Sans Frontières and the International HIV/Aids Alliance in Ukraine were present in the speakers’ panel. Following the discussions, the Chair of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Delegation committed to address HIV and TB issues during the next EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee to be held in Kyiv in November 2011. Civil society organisations and WHO Europe will be invited to present the current situation. The European External Action Service also took the alarming situation into account and decided to bring these issues to closer consideration in future EU-Ukraine Association Agreement negotiations.  

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