Cablegate: Lung Disease Conference Highlights Global Efforts

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

261440Z Oct 05




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: From October 18-22 in Paris, the International
Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) held
its 36th World Conference on Lung Health, the world's
premier meeting of tuberculosis and public health experts
from the perspective of low-income, high disease-burdened
countries. Some two thousand participants from 129
countries shared experiences and addressed the conference
theme "scaling up and sustaining effective tuberculosis, HIV
and asthma prevention and control." A number of sessions
underscored that, perhaps for the first time, significant
resources - largely from the Global Fund against HIV/AIDS,
Tuberculosis, and Malaria - existed to tackle tuberculosis
at the global level. At the conference, the Union, together
with other partners, including the World Health
Organization, launched a new asthma drug facility. End

Global Fund Major Contributor against HIV and TB
--------------------------------------------- ---

2. Traditionally a tuberculosis-focused conference, this
year the Scientific Program highlighted the strong links
between tuberculosis and HIV. Dr. Michel Kazatchkine,
France's `AIDS Ambassador,' noted in the first plenary that
tuberculosis now causes one-third of HIV-related deaths. He
stated that resources for addressing HIV/AIDS and
tuberculosis have greatly increased and that the Global Fund
plays a particularly important role. Despite progress,
however, he noted that five million new HIV infections occur
each year, with significant incidences in young adults and
women. He spoke highly of the work of the Global Fund in
addressing both these diseases. He noted that HIV proposals
to the Global Fund are now required to have an anti-
tuberculosis component and tuberculosis proposals must have
an anti-HIV component.

3. The Global Fund's Deputy Executive Director Evans and
Dr. Kazatchkine both responded to several questions
addressing Global Fund issues. One questioner wanted to
know why, given that free or heavily subsidized
antiretroviral (ARV) treatments are highly effective in
enhancing survivability in the HIV disease-ridden, ARV drugs
are not more universally provided free-of-charge. Evans and
Kazatchkine explained that while Global Fund resources are
made available at no cost to governments, country programs
often require charges for ARV's and other care. A project
coordinator for the Philippines program added that charges
were necessary for ARV's to generate a sustainability fund
for the future because Global Fund resources "would not be
available forever."

Attention to HIV

4. Two of the three plenary sessions were devoted to HIV
itself. (One addressed the responsibility of the scientific
community to make HIV tests and drugs available to
developing communities, while the other noted the need to
increase access to HIV and asthma drugs.) Dr. Helene Gayle,
from the Gates Foundation, spoke of the tasks, duties and
responsibilities of the scientific community to ensure the
accessibility of new tools, including diagnostic tests and
drugs, to poor and disadvantaged communities, to enable the
rapid scale up and sustaining of TB and HIV control
activities. Dr. Ian Smith from the World Health
Organization, in a second plenary, outlined the need and
prerequisites for developing initiatives to increase access
to HIV and asthma drugs.

5. To expand knowledge on clinical aspects of HIV/AIDS, two
post-graduate courses were held: one based on case
discussions, and the other on integrated care of HIV-
infected patients, highlighting the natural history of HIV,
its opportunistic infections and the use of antiretroviral
medications. In addition, HIV-related sessions were held on
laboratory tests, treatment and care, mycobacterial
immunity, children, countries with emerging TB-HIV co-
epidemics, policy advocacy, human resource development,
programmatic issues, and activism.

Giving Activists their Say

6. In an effort to expand from its programmatic, scientific
and technologic base, the Union also embraced the key role
of community activists, who have contributed greatly in not
only the battle against HIV/AIDS, but also against
tuberculosis. Mr. Zackie Achmat, an HIV/AIDS activist from
South Africa, presented the guest lecture "How can social
mobilization contribute to enhancing and sustaining TB and
HIV/AIDS control in low-income settings?"

Addressing Needs of Asthma Victims

7. Worldwide, approximately 300 million people suffer from
asthma. Although this disease has been identified as a
significant public health problem in developing countries,
where the majority of asthmatics reside, most cases go
undiagnosed, untreated or are mistreated. Poor access to
medications, in terms of both affordability and
availability, is the main barrier. At the conference, The
Union, working with partners such as the World Health
Organization, launched a new mechanism - the Asthma Drug
Facility - to provide access to affordable good quality
essential asthma drugs, which will use pooled requests to
obtain the lowest possible prices, as well as providing
technical assistance and monitoring of their storage,
distribution and use.

Note your calendar!

8. Next year's conference will be held in Paris, October 30
through November 4, 2006.

9. Comment: Aside from providing practitioners from around
the world with knowledge and technical training in
addressing lung diseases (and HIV), the plenary sessions of
the conference underscored the important - and grave - nexus
between HIV and tuberculosis, and the need to develop
treatment programs to address both diseases simultaneously.
In this regard, conference speakers noted the greater
availability of donor resources in recent years targeted at
developing world health concerns. The work of the Global
Fund in particular plays an acknowledged, important role
internationally in addressing not only HIV, but also lung
disease. End Comment.


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