In Paris, health experts from around the world are meeting for a second day on XDR-TB, or Extremely Drug Resistant Tuberculosis.
Several new reports were released Wednesday by groups calling for a massive mobilization on the disease. They say TB, HIV/AIDS and poverty combine to cause two million preventable deaths every year.
One of the groups is the Open Society Institute. Its chairman is George Soros. From Paris, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about why he believes massive mobilization is needed.
“Tuberculosis is a big and rising problem that is not getting the attention that it deserves. HIV/AIDS is recognized as a very big problem and very large amounts are available. And there’s also a great deal of social mobilization. Now, tuberculosis is closely connected with HIV, but it is somehow not getting enough attention. So, one of the things that is needed is to accelerate research and development of new drugs and that would require fast track treatment, similar to what has been given to HIV/AIDS drugs,” he says.
Soros says in this case, he does not foresee a repeat of the legal and patent battles that erupted over the manufacture and sale of HIV/AIDS medications. “We have learned a lot…. In this case the problem will probably be nipped in the bud,” he says.
TB and HIV often go hand in hand, but Soros warns that viewing them as a single disease could cause problems.
“This is a very tricky proposition. And actually one of the findings of the research is how complicated that relationship is because there is stigma involved in both…. The research in Thailand has shown that that would be very dangerous. Because then TB patients would not avail themselves of the service because they don’t want to have the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS,” he says.
The World Conference on Lung Health in Paris continues through November 4th.