The World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2023 Global Tuberculosis (TB) Report released today shows that the estimated global incidence of TB in 2022 remains unacceptably high, including for the more difficult to treat form of this disease, drug-resistant TB (DR-TB). With an estimated 1.3 million people having died from TB in 2022, and still only about two out of five people with DR-TB diagnosed and started on treatment, it is critical that countries close the significant testing gap. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) called on governments to ensure universal access to WHO-recommended tests for all adults and children and to urgently adopt and implement the updated WHO treatment recommendations, specifically utilising the all-oral six-month DR-TB treatment regimens. Following price reductions for the TB test GeneXpert MTB/RIF Ultra – key to diagnosis and timely, suitable treatment of TB – and the TB drug bedaquiline – essential to new shorter and safer DR-TB treatment regimens – scale-up of these medical tools is now significantly more achievable.
The WHO first recommended the GeneXpert MTB/RIF as the initial test to diagnose TB in December 2010, and the shorter, safer and more effective all-oral six-month DR-TB treatment regimens BPaLM and BPaL in December 2022. In last month’s second-ever United Nations (UN) Political Declaration on tuberculosis (TB), world leaders committed to accelerate progress to end DR-TB by reaching 90% of the estimated number of people with TB with quality-assured tests and diagnosis by 2027, and by providing equitable and affordable access to all-oral shorter treatment regimens for people with DR-TB. Reaching these goals will require countries to overcome a significant funding gap: in 2022 there was only US$5.8 billion spent on essential on TB services in 2022 per WHO, which is less than half of the global target.