Foundation funds fight against TB

Updated: 2015-10-23 07:52

By Shan Juan(China Daily)

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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is giving China a three-year grant totaling $17.6 million to help control tuberculosis, which kills 50,000 Chinese each year.

Part of the second phase of a long-term cooperation with China's National Health and Family Planning Commission, the grant will be used by the commission to scale up the comprehensive TB control program that was piloted in selected provinces. It will also drive innovation in diagnostics, treatment approaches and monitoring, e-learning, service delivery models and new financial approaches.

The first phase was launched in 2009 and involved a $33 million grant from the foundation. It helped China prevent and treat multidrug-resistant TB, and expanded the treatment and prevention strategy for multidrug-resistant TB into a comprehensive approach for all TB cases.

According to Trevor Mundel, president of Global Health at the foundation, the second phase will be led by the Chinese government and is primarily funded by Chinese partners.

TB control was one of the first programs launched when the foundation set up its China office in 2007.

"Our continuous investment in the collaboration with the commission shows our active response to the Chinese government's call for TB control and our long-term commitment to help China address its critical health challenges," he said at the signing ceremony of the latest initiative on Thursday.

Over the past two decades, China has made substantial progress in TB control, and achieved a 50 percent reduction in TB prevalence and mortality.

However, challenges still exist as WHO statistics showed there is still a high TB burden in the country.

Each year, there are around 900,000 new TB cases in China, the second most in the world, more than 50,000 of which are multidrug-resistant.

Wang Guoqiang, vice-minister of the commission, said: "We are very excited to deepen our collaboration with the foundation to explore and implement more effective methods for disease control. We look forward to scaling up new models and tools to help push forward China's national TB control efforts."

According to Mundel, the foundation is also mulling bringing an R&D initiative for new TB drugs to China.

"We believe China's TB-control model and technological innovation will not only help solve its own critical public health issues, but also provide other countries with valuable insight into controlling their TB epidemics," he added.