World TB Day 2022: Invest in Research to End TB and Save Lives

World TB Day 2022: Invest in Research to End TB and Save Lives

The National Research Foundation (NRF) joins organisations worldwide to commemorate World TB Day observed on the 24th of March each year. The date marks the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced the discovery of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB), opening the door to diagnosing and curing the disease.

The theme of World TB Day 2022, ‘Invest to End TB. Save Lives.’ highlights the urgent need to invest resources to step up the fight against TB and achieve the commitments to end TB.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 66 million lives since the year 2000. However the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed years of progress made in the fight to end TB. As such, more investment is required to save millions of lives and to speed up the end of the TB epidemic.

As a premier funding agency in South Africa, the NRF has committed over R157 million in the last seven years (2016- 2022) towards TB research in South Africa. The investments supported researchers and students at the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence for Biomedical Tuberculosis Research (CBTBR). The CBTBR was established in July 2004 and is hosted at three different nodes, i.e. the University of Witwatersrand, University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University. Working to find solutions, the CBTBR plays a prominent role in facilitating basic and translational research on various aspects relating to TB transmission, diagnosis and therapy.

Furthermore, over R35 million was invested by the NRF from 2013 to 2020 to strengthen and improve TB research at the three DSI-NRF Research Chairs in Paediatric Tuberculosis, Tuberculosis Biomarkers and Animal Tuberculosis, hosted at Stellenbosch University. The Research Chairs form part of the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI), which was established in 2006 to attract and retain excellence in research and innovation at public universities in South Africa.

This World TB Day, we reflect on scientific advances made by South African researchers in furthering basic and translational research in various aspects of TB transmission, molecular diagnostics, TB drug resistance, treatment and vaccine. The various research was featured in Volume 3, Issue 4 of the NRF Science Matters Magazine. You can download a copy of the magazine from NRF_Science-Matters-Magazine_Vol3_Issue4.pdf

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