Unless there is a major shift in the way the world fights tuberculosis — from a reliance on biomedical solutions to an approach that combines biomedical interventions with social actions — the epidemic and drug resistance will worsen, say researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. In a new study, they call for a “biosocial” approach that incorporates interventions in areas such as nutrition, urban planning, occupational health, addiction recovery, and mental health services.
“Despite increased funding for tuberculosis programs over the past 15 years, progress has been woefully slow,” said senior author Rifat Atun, professor of global health systems. “We strongly argue that more of the same will not stop tuberculosis. The time has come for comprehensive actions to confront the root causes of tuberculosis, which lie in poverty and deprivation.”
The study was published online Oct. 26 in The Lancet as part of a special series led by Salmaan Keshavjee, Harvard Medical School associate professor of global health and social medicine. The series, which includes five papers detailing a comprehensive plan to stop TB deaths, along with three commentaries that place the epidemic in context, will also be published as a book. The strategies outlined in the papers will ultimately be put into action through the Zero TB Cities Project, an initiative aimed at creating “islands of elimination” of the disease.