A multifaceted international partnership programme to combat the growing multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) pandemic is well underway, with a five-year project strategy until the end of 2011 also being developed within South Africa.
In 2003, global pharmaceutical giant Lilly launched the Lilly Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis Partnership project, which brought together 14 public and private partners, health professionals, businesses and communities to address multifaceted aspects of MDR TB.
To date, Lilly has contributed $135-million to the project and has established initiatives in four high-burden countries — South Africa, China, Russia and India.
The programme aims to meet the World Health Organisation’s goal of treating 800 000 patients by 2015 and the South African national health department’s vision of a country that is free of TB by 2050.
In South Africa, the Lilly MDR-TB partnership programme was rolled out in 2004, the first priority being to ensure improved access to critical medicines used to treat MDR-TB. The company partnered with Aspen Pharmacare and transferred the intellectual property rights and technical know-how related to the manufacture, testing packaging, storage and handling of two Lilly products used to treat MDR-TB.
It also facilitated good manufacturing practices skills transfer and made a $3-million commitment for the support of manufacturing capabilities at Aspen in South Africa.
Sinced 2004, the partnership programme has focused on projects such as healthcare professionals training, drug access initiatives and awareness programmes.
It is currently working with all its South African MDR-TB partners, including the national health department, to develop a holistic project strategy for 2007 to 2011, aligned to the national health department’s TB strategy.
In South Africa, Lilly’s MDR TB partners include the national and provincial health departments, Aspen Pharmacare, South African Medical Association, Democratic Nurses’ Organisation of South Africa, International Federation of the Red Cross and the Foundation for Professional Development.