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Johnson & Johnson Announces Five Initiatives to Help Find the ‘Missing Millions’ of Undiagnosed People Living with Tuberculosis

  • Three out of 10 people with TB go undiagnosed and untreated, a situation exacerbated by health disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Collaborating with the Global Fund, USAID, PATH and others will help more people access TB care
  • These initiatives build on Johnson & Johnson’s longstanding commitment to tackling TB and addressing health inequity in high-burden countries

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., 24 March 2021 – In recognition of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, Johnson & Johnson today announced a series of new commitments and collaborations in support of global efforts to find and deliver care to the millions of adults and children living with TB who have not yet been diagnosed. Successfully identifying these people, especially those living with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), remains one of the most significant obstacles in achieving the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal of ending TB by 2030.

These initiatives—together with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund); U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); PATH; Aquity Innovations and several private sector organizations—will help to identify more people living with TB and help enable them to access care. Three of the initiatives will focus specifically on improving pediatric diagnosis and treatment, while two will accelerate care for adults.

"While the world has made strides in recent years against TB, COVID-19 threatens this hard-won progress as more people living with TB are now going undiagnosed,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer of Johnson & Johnson. "Johnson & Johnson is committed to supporting urgently-needed efforts to help identify the ‘missing millions’ of undiagnosed individuals with TB and connect them with care to help put the world back on track toward ending this disease by 2030."

In 2019, approximately 3 million of the 10 million people who developed TB were missed, or not diagnosed. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation by straining health systems, diverting resources and disrupting access to care for people living with TB. Earlier this month, the Stop TB Partnership reported that nine countries accounting for 60 percent of the global TB burden reported significant declines in the number of people diagnosed and treated for TB during 2020, setting the overall total of people diagnosed and treated in those countries back by 12 years, to levels not seen since 2008. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that TB deaths may increase dramatically if case-finding efforts are disrupted over a prolonged period and people living with TB are not identified and able to access lifesaving care.

“Solving the challenge posed by TB – especially now, in light of COVID-19-related disruptions, requires us to think differently and work together in new and innovative ways,” said Adrian Thomas, M.D., Vice President, Strategy & External Affairs, Johnson & Johnson Services Inc., and Private Sector Constituency Board Member for the Stop TB Partnership. “We are proud to announce a new series of collaborations aimed at connecting our unique capabilities, together with those of our collaborators, to help more people with TB access care, address inequities in high-burden countries and ensure continued progress toward ending TB.”

Collaborating with USAID and Others to Diagnose More Children with TB
An estimated 32,000 children fall ill with MDR-TB each year, yet fewer than 1,000 of these cases are appropriately reported and treated. Johnson & Johnson is collaborating with a variety of organizations, including USAID, PATH and Aquity Innovations, to address this challenge and meet the unique needs of children impacted by drug-resistant TB (DR-TB).

· Johnson & Johnson is supporting USAID to launch a new program to increase awareness and improve local capacity to diagnose and treat pediatric DR-TB in high TB-burden countries. USAID and Johnson & Johnson will provide technical support, convene stakeholder meetings and lead workshops involving children’s health workers, healthcare facilities and others to support the implementation of country-specific pediatric TB roadmaps and build on programs that identify children living with DR-TB and provide them with lifesaving care.

· In Vietnam, Johnson & Johnson and PATH have expanded on the success of Breath for Life (B4L), an initiative launched in 2016 that aimed to accelerate pediatric TB case detection, treatment and prevention through the strengthening of health systems in the northern rural mountainous province of Nghe An. The expansion of this effort has focused on scaling this approach nationwide by activating the National Tuberculosis Program system at all levels, mobilizing public-private networks, engaging communities and families, and advocating for policy change at the national level.

· Johnson & Johnson is working with Aquity Innovations[1] in South Africa to improve diagnosis and treatment for children and adolescents living with DR-TB. This initiative includes capacity building efforts to support training and mentorship programs, social mapping to improve contact tracing and elevating local TB champions and advocates, among other activities. Notably, with Johnson & Johnson’s support, Aquity Innovations has helped to reopen a pediatric TB ward that was initially closed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leveraging Cross-Sector Capabilities to Detect Cases of Adult TB
Even before the emergence of COVID-19, less than half of the approximately 500,000 new cases of DR-TB each year were properly diagnosed. By collaborating with national governments, not-for-profit organizations and other members of the private sector, Johnson & Johnson is helping to bring care to these people and protect the vulnerable communities in which many of them live.

· Project inSight is a new collaboration between Johnson & Johnson and the Global Fund in Indonesia and the Philippines that will further understanding of why it can be difficult to identify DR-TB patients. By combining the Global Fund’s scale and reach and Johnson & Johnson’s unique expertise in consumer and patient insights, new strategies can be devised to amplify efforts to identify, engage and support people living with DR-TB, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

· Johnson & Johnson is also announcing new commitments from suppliers, including Covance by Labcorp, IQVIA, PRA Health Sciences, Recipharm and VVF Ltd. South Africa, to join the Ending Workplace TB initiative, alongside other new corporate members Cepheid, Freeport McMoRan, Otsuka, PerkinElmer, Qiagen and Société Générale. These companies are joining an innovative, multi-sectoral partnership launched at Davos in January 2020 by Johnson & Johnson; the World Economic Forum; the Global Fund; the Stop TB Partnership; Royal Philips; Fullerton Health; the Confederation of Indian Industry and USAID, which leverages the untapped potential of businesses in countries disproportionately impacted by TB to roll out awareness, detection and treatment programs in their workplaces to reach millions of workers, their families and communities. TB disproportionately impacts people during their most productive years, and business-led efforts against the disease serve as an important complement to national TB programs.

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Last Updated: 24-Mar-2021