Tuberculosis (TB) is a top 10 global killer. HIV/AIDS no longer tops the list thanks to a global response focused on diagnosis and treatment. TB, however, remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases and its impact is disproportionately felt in low- and middle-income countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 95% of TB deaths occur in these resource-limited settings.
Despite the scary statistics, progress has been made over the last few decades. Diagnosis and treatment saved more than 50 million lives between 2000 and 2016. The public health community built on that foundation and adopted the End TB strategy, which aims to end the epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. The strategy uses a blueprint based on three pillars: 1) integrated, patient-centered care and prevention, 2) bold policies and supportive systems, and 3) intensified research and innovation.
Most readers might rightfully think that controlling TB is simply about making sure patients receive their medication, but there are other spokes in the wheel working to create a comprehensive and effective response to the epidemic. These equally important spokes can include things like transporting viable patient samples to the testing laboratory, using appropriate medications in proper doses, or developing shorter treatment regimens. In the spirit of rolling a complete wheel down the road, I want to highlight three innovative research papers that address these sometimes overlooked issues within resource-limited settings.