We often take it for granted that any infections can be cured, and that all drugs and medicines will do what they are supposed to.
But imagine this scenario: you are diagnosed with a life-threatening infectious disease that was once treatable with a course of antibiotics of six months, but that will now take up to 2 years to treat.
This is the reality for over half a million people living with drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB).
The drugs we use to treat TB are five decades old and over time, resistant forms of TB have emerged, partly due to the difficulty and length of the standard TB treatment. The current treatment for drug-resistant TB is long and arduous, including 2 years of over 14,000 pills and months of painful injections. This makes it difficult for someone with TB to complete their treatment and is a major driver of the spread of TB.
Put simply, the drugs don’t always work.
The rise in resistance of bugs to the drugs we have to combat them, or ‘antimicrobial resistance’ (AMR), is widely recognised as one of the world’s most dangerous threats to public health. As the only drug-resistant infection to be spread through the air, TB is a particular menace. Drug companies must prioritise the development of new drugs to combat TB. To enable this to happen, innovative mechanisms are needed to unlock the development of such treatments at an affordable price. These exist, but need to be implemented.
The world is waking up to the threat of AMR – and the UK has been at the forefront of global efforts to galvanize action. Just last year, they published Lord Jim O’Neill’s ground-breaking global Review on Antimicrobial Resistance and were instrumental in ensuring it caught the attention of world leaders.
In July, some of the world's biggest economies assembled in Hamburg for the G20 Summit to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing us today.
One of the most exciting outcomes was the inclusion of TB in the Communiqué's section on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), with a call for new ways to promote research and development - something you helped call for as a part of this campaign. This may sound like a small victory, but could potentially have a huge impact; with everything else that is happening in international politics at present, there were concerns that the threat of drug-resistant TB could slip off the agenda. So thank you to all who took action on the issue!
You can read our response to the Leaders' Communiqué here.