Liverpool goes red for World TB Day

News article 22 Mar 2024
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St George's Hall Liverpool lit up red for World TB Day.

Liverpool is red – at least for 24 hours – as the city is lit to mark World Tuberculosis (TB) Day.

Organised by the Stop TB Partnership, alongside the banner “Yes! We can end TB”, each year cities around the world are invited to #LightUpForTB.

Buildings at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), the University of Liverpool, the Liver Building, Liverpool Town Hall and St George’s Hall will glow red on Sunday 24th March as part of the global demonstration of a shared commitment to ending TB.

TB is an infectious disease of public health significance, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable populations globally. More than 10 million people each year fall ill with TB, more than a third of whom are never diagnosed or treated, and 1.3 million people die each year from this curable disease.

Centre for TB Research

LSTM leads vital research to tackle this global problem, co-ordinated through its new Centre for TB Research. The Centre’s research uniquely ranges from discovery to implementation to health systems research, addressing social determinants of and exposure to TB, accessing healthcare services and long-term health and socioeconomic wellbeing. This trajectory ensures that their discoveries quickly translate into real-world solutions for sustainable development.

This includes research into TB diagnosis, treatment and care, as well as inequitable barriers to accessing TB services and the psychological, social and economic impacts of TB, including stigma, depression and catastrophic costs.

The new Centre launched in January, when LSTM hosted the first in-person meeting of the UK Academics and Professionals to End TB network, that aims to improve health, social and economic outcomes for people affected by TB through research, partnership and education. This includes strengthening national and international equitable partnerships between researchers, health professionals, policymakers, civil society, affected communities, the media and the private sector for a whole of society approach to end TB.

Dr Kerry Millington, Director of the Centre for TB at LSTM, said: “We have created this new Centre for TB Research at LSTM to strengthen our collaborative research within LSTM and equitably with partners around the world. We hope to improve and expand our connections and networks locally to globally, engaging and working collectively with all relevant stakeholders. And finally, to deliver high-quality, accessible education which complements our research developing future leaders. I am incredibly proud of our TB community here at LSTM and beyond and look forward to us contributing as best we can for a TB-free world by 2030.”

Research and expertise

TB research at LSTM includes LIGHT, a six-year international health research programme funded with UK aid and led by LSTM in collaboration with partners in Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, and the UK. LIGHT seeks to generate new evidence on achieving gender-equitable access to TB prevention and care for those with TB in urban settings.

LSTM are also the lead partner on Start4All, a four-year Unitaid funded project focused on global improvement of TB screening, diagnosis, and treatment, with partners in Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, and Vietnam. Through identification and evaluation of existing and novel combinations of diagnostic tests, with a range of populations and at multiple health system levels, Start4All is committed to increasing equitable access to timely detection of TB and linkage into quality care and treatment for all.

LSTM hosts the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group (CIDG). Since 1994, the CIDG has been preparing systematic reviews on the benefits and harms of healthcare interventions for infectious diseases, including TB. Their most recent review, published this week, explores people’s experiences of active case finding for TB.  In recent years, CIDG reviews have helped to inform WHO guidelines on TB, including on diagnostics, screening and disease management.

In the UK, LSTM also runs the LIV-TB seminar series with the University of Liverpool to discuss the latest advancements in the field. LSTM clinicians, healthcare workers, and allied healthcare professionals play an active role in the TB response in the North West, working with the NHS and UKHSA to support care and prevention amongst TB-affected households and communities.

LSTM also hosts a worldwide team of leading TB experts, spanning every stage of the TB care pathway, from discovery to delivery. These experts are internationally renowned, and regularly contribute thought leadership on TB.

For example, Dr Tom Wingfield the Deputy Director of the Centre, recently gave a Keynote Lecture at the Bernhard Nocht Institute of Tropical Medicine in Germany on the social determinants and consequences of TB and, coinciding with World TB Day, has co-authored with Dr Ahmad Fuady of Universitas Indonesia a ‘viewpoint’ for Lancet Public Health on making social protection a reality for all people with TB. He has also co-authored a research article with Ms Kritika Dixit of Birat Nepal Medical Trust on stigma, depression, and quality of life among people with TB in Nepal.

Dr Wingfield said: “TB is an ancient disease that is both curable and preventable but continues to exert a devastating psychological, social, and economic toll on affected people and communities around the world. In 2023, TB was the leading global cause of death from an infectious disease, predominantly driven by poverty and associated undernutrition.”

“Eradicting TB will require concerted action and investment not only into better diagnostic tools, treatments, and preventive therapy but also to address its structural and social determinants and consequences. At the new LSTM Centre for Tuberculosis Research, we will work tirelessly to ensure that “Yes! We can end TB”.