Wirelessly Observed Therapy could revolutionise tuberculosis treatment, researchers to tell the 48th Union World Conference

A digital revolution in tuberculosis (TB) technology could transform treatment for a generation of people living with the disease  researchers will announce at the 48th Union World Conference on Lung Health to be held 11-14 October at the Expo Guadalajara Convention Centre in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) is universally recommended to ensure Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Complex (MTB) treatment adherence. However, DOT is resource intensive, intrusive and expensive with limited implementation in resource­ limited settings contributing to increased rates of resistant MTB. Wirelessly Observed Therapy (WOT) has the potential to move the treatment goal posts for the millions of people living with the disease, researchers will announce in Guadalajara.

Scientific progress on the path to eliminating TB by 2030 is making strong strides and some key developments in new technologies that have capacities to better diagnose and treat TB will be showcased for the very first time at the Union conference. In addition, breakthrough results from a population-based study that investigates for the first time the relationship between TB infection and diabetes will be presented in Guadalajara. The study will reveal highly anticipated new figures on TB infection rates amongst undiagnosed diabetics.

“New technologies in the diagnosis and treatment of TB are going to be key if we are to accelerate progress towards eliminating TB,” said José Luis Castro, Executive Director, The Union. “The world has committed to eliminating TB by 2030, but we have a very small window to move toward that goal. As this year’s conference will demonstrate, science, human rights and evidence-based policy must be at the heart of everything we do.”

TB is now the world’s leading cause of death from an infectious disease (1.8 million deaths annually), having surpassed HIV/AIDS in 2015, and is increasingly characterised by drug-resistant forms of the disease. Over 10 million people per year contract the disease and TB is now in the top ten list of global killers.

Expected to draw some 3,000 participants from more than 120 countries, the 48th Union World Conference on Lung Health is the world’s pre-eminent gathering for announcing new scientific findings in the field of lung health. Scientists, public health programme and agency leaders, policymakers, affected communities and activists will convene under the theme of Accelerating Towards Elimination, focusing on how to accelerate progress on multiple fronts including TB and co-infections, improving tobacco control measures and reducing air pollution.

Dr José Narro Robles, Mexico´s Secretary of Health, will open the conference on behalf of H.E. Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico.

The Union Conference will also shine a light on the political momentum gathering ahead of next year´s inaugural United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis. on Thursday 12 October first Plenary Session will look at the implications of the High Level Meeting.  The expert panel includes Dr Eric Goosby, UN Special Envoy on Tuberculosis, Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership, and Professor Michel Kazatchkine, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The conference will also feature a public community space – Encuentro – driven by communities involved in the fight for lung health and a city-wide 10 km bike ride, featuring hundreds of conference participants who will be cycling to raise awareness of the chronic air pollution issues in cities worldwide, the need for sustainable transport, and to assert the right of everyone to breathe clean air.