France and Britain said they were teaming up to battle tuberculosis in West Africa by funding research during a three-year period to better diagnose and treat the disease, Reuters reported today, quoting a French ministry statement. Britain’s International Development Minister Clare Short and French Cooperation Minister Charles Josselin announced it was the largest joint programme in West Africa and would cost US $1.4 million. The research would be undertaken by the Medical Research Council (MRC) in The Gambia in collaboration with other West African centres, the statement added. It would focus on improving the detection and treatment of tuberculosis in The Gambia, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Senegal.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) in its second annual compilation of data on the disease, reported that between 1995 and 1996, TB case notifications increased in four out of six WHO geographical regions in the world. It added that the marked increase in Africa was certainly linked to HIV, the virus which gives AIDS. In a related development, WHO issued guidelines in a report, ‘Tuberculosis and Air Travel: Guidelines for Prevention and Control’, to reduce transmission of the disease to the world’s 1.4 billion air passengers. WHO underlined that while the risk is low, TB transmission during air travel has been documented.