Union Conference on Lung Health

Today's guest blog comes from Lilly's vice president of Global Health Programs, Evan Lee, M.D.

Let’s start with two questions today:

What deadly infectious disease continues to kill up to 1.5 million people each year and continues to mutate and evolve into forms that are increasingly hard to treat?  And especially impacts countries with weak health systems? No, it’s not what you’re thinking! I’m talking about tuberculosis and the continued increase in the number of people suffering from drug-resistant TB.

According to the World Health Organization’s latest estimates, 2013 saw nine million cases of TB and 480,000 cases of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) – more than enough for TB to retain the dubious distinction as the deadliest infectious disease behind HIV/AIDS.

Fighting TB is not easy; fighting MDR-TB is even harder. The WHO reports that China, India, and Russia carry the burden of more than half of the world’s MDR-TB cases. This is exactly why we chose to focus Lilly MDR-TB Partnership’s work on these countries, along with South Africa, which has the continent’s highest burden of MDR-TB. With our partners, we are putting our resources to work where the need is most acute and we can have the greatest impact.

This week, Lilly and our partners will join the global health community in Barcelona for the 45th Union World Conference on Lung Health to share new findings that we’ve been collecting through our efforts to improve MDR-TB management. We work with our partners to pilot comprehensive solutions that go beyond medicines alone, and the data our partners are sharing will help inform policymakers on how to improve MDR-TB care in local settings. These findings focus on crucial aspects of MDR-TB treatment and care, including the roles of pharmacists and rural health workers, the use of mobile technology, community-based and prison-based care, and even TB care for people with drug dependence. 

Optimizing care at these points in the healthcare system is crucial to closing the gap between MDR-TB detection – which is increasing, thanks to a surge in new diagnostics – and treatment, which still has a long way to go. To read our abstracts, follow our postings this week on www.LillyGlobalHealth.com.