The UN agency insists that implementing an integrated strategy to identify household contacts and provide TB preventive treatment is cost-effective.
Unitaid says it could cut deaths by 35 percent in household contacts of patients and people with HIV over the next 12 years.
Saving children’s lives
A joint study by Unitaid, John Hopkins University in the United States, and the Aurum Institute, found that this strategy could save 850,000 lives in 2035, most of which will be children who are currently given low recognition rates for under 15 years old.
According to research, failure to implement this combination intervention will result in almost 1 million deaths by 2035.
The findings are in line with the UN World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation that TB preventive treatment should be given to those at highest risk of infection.
This includes people with HIV and household contacts of people with TB who account for a significant percentage of the 10.6 million new infections each year – all preventable and treatable.
‘slipping through the cracks’
“Currently, there are too many family members of people diagnosed with TB slipped through the cracks and so many lives were lost“said Tess Ryckman, faculty member at Johns Hopkins.
Tuberculosis remains the world’s deadliest infectious disease – although preventable and treatable. According to the WHO, about a quarter of the world’s population is infected with TB and is at risk of developing active disease, which causes severe illness.
“”The need for TB prevention is clear,” said Vincent Bretin, Unitaid’s Director of Results.
“This cost-effectiveness analysis confirms that reaching all at-risk individuals – even if there are logistical barriers to going into communities to find those who are inactive seeking care – behaviorally unsound. This is a smart investment that can make a big impact in the fight to end TB worldwide.
Prices are lowered
After a series of negotiations led by Unitaid and others, treatment prices have decreased by more than 70 percent since 2017, making the disease more preventable and treatable.
As well as being cheaper, new shorter treatment regimens mean TB infections can be cleared before they become an active disease, according to Unitaid.
The study found that by giving 3HP, a 12-week course of treatment, there was an approximately 13 percent reduction in the number of contacts who developed TB.
As world leaders prepare for the second UN High-Level Meeting on tuberculosis this September, Unitaid is calling for more initial commitment and more financial support to “urgently reap the big rewards of disease prevention.” and death from TB.”