Tuberculosis (TB), often thought of as a disease of the past, continues to plague the world’s most vulnerable populations. The Stop TB Partnership estimates there are around 8.8 million new cases of TB globally each year and about 1.4 million deaths.
In some areas of the world, one in four people with TB has a drug-resistant form of the disease. In sheer numbers, Asia bears the brunt of the epidemic. Almost 50% of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) cases worldwide are estimated to occur in India and China. In Africa, estimates show 69,000 cases emerged in 2008, the vast majority of which went undiagnosed.
These dire statistics are even more dismal considering that TB and MDR-TB are treatable and curable. The real problem lies in the fact that TB – in all its forms – is a complex disease, one which is not only a medical problem; it is also a social and economic problem.
Recognizing that MDR-TB cannot be halted by medicine alone, in 2003, Eli Lilly and Company officially created The Lilly MDR-TB Partnership. This public-private initiative now mobilizes over 25 partners on five continents to tackle the scourge of TB and MDR-TB head on. Lilly contributed US$ 120 million in cash, medicines, advocacy tools and technology to focus global resources on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of patients with MDR-TB; and an additional US$ 15 million to the Lilly TB Drug Discovery Initiative to accelerate the discovery of new drugs to treat TB. The company made this investment to ensure that thousands of MDR-TB patients receive the care and medication they need to combat this disease.
The Eli Lilly and Company Foundation will support the Partnership and commit US$30 million for five years (2012-2016) to organizations in the Partnership. The third stage of The Lilly MDR-TB Partnership will be topically focused on:
Lilly and the Lilly Foundation will work with partners at the global and local level, with a specific focus on partners in the four countries carrying the highest burden of MDR-TB: China, India, Russia and South Africa.
The devastation of TB is a stark and inescapable reality for many individuals, families and communities around the globe. Lilly and its Partners work together closely, sharing knowledge, expertise and research in the quest to contain and conquer MDR-TB, a disease that disproportionately affects impoverished populations. The initiatives of The Lilly MDR-TB Partnership all have one thing in common: improved care for some of the world’s most vulnerable people, delivered in a manner that is sustainable and builds capacity within the communities where it is needed most.