Tuberculosis

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:48 pm on 7th June 2018.

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Photo of Louise Ellman Louise Ellman Labour/Co-operative, Liverpool, Riverside 1:48 pm, 7th June 2018

I congratulate Nick Herbert on securing this very important debate and on his very powerful speech.

Tuberculosis remains the world’s deadliest infectious disease. It was responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million people in 2017. TB was declared a global emergency in 1993, and the sustainable development goals envisioned ending it by 2030. At the current rate of progress, this target will not be reached for 160 years.

I have the privilege of representing a Liverpool constituency where work of world-class excellence in combating this scourge is based. Liverpool University’s Institute of Infection and Global Health, led by Professor Tom Solomon, and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine are international leaders. They undertake world-renowned collaborative research in this area. It is because of Liverpool’s outstanding work that it was chosen as host of the 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health in October 2016. I was pleased to be able to participate in that in a small way.

The work in Liverpool to combat this disease is wide-ranging. Scientists at the Institute of Infection and Global Health are leading a €25 million European public-private partnership aiming to accelerate development of new combinations of drugs to fight TB, both in the UK and abroad. They are also looking at how poverty is contributing to the challenge of tuberculosis. Poor people are more likely develop the disease and, indeed, to die from it.

The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine undertakes significant research into complex poverty-driven global diseases, including TB. The International Multidisciplinary Programme to Address Lung Health and TB in Africa—IMPALA—is led by Professor Bertie Squire, Dr Angela Obasi and Dr Kevin Mortimer. It is a £7 million project funded by the National Institute for Health Research to create an Africa-focused NIHR global health research unit for lung health and TB. It works across 11 African countries, and its work includes strengthening research infrastructure in African institutions.

Dr Gerry Davies is leading the major €25 million European public-private partnership aimed at accelerating the development of new combinations of drugs to fight TB. He is also part of a WHO taskforce on treating TB. STREAM is an international project to investigate treatment of anti-TB drugs for patients with multidrug-resistant TB, which is a major issue in combating the disease. The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine is one of the international collaborators on that vital project.

The relationship between poverty and the growth and spread of TB has been mentioned, and significant parts of the pioneering work taking place in Liverpool focus on that relationship. Dr Tom Wingfield is leading much of that research, including studies currently taking place in Peru. He is part of the WHO’s taskforce on the catastrophic effects of TB, and he is also responsible for cross-campus collaboration between Liverpool University and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Some of the key work involves training conducted by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine that focuses on TB microbiology, epidemiology, care and prevention, and it attracts international students.

Those are just a few examples of the inspirational work based in Liverpool. It reflects dedicated people with high levels of expertise and institutions that enable this important work to progress internationally in a collaborative way. It is about combating a disease that takes millions of lives a year.

I agree that much more international support is required, and I fully endorse the call from the right hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs for the Prime Minister and others of a high status to attend the important impending conference. That is vital to show the importance attached to combating this dreadful disease. International support and more funding are required, but I ask the House to take note of the groundbreaking collaborative work currently taking place in Liverpool. Liverpool should be proud.