The World Health Organization has issued new guidelines for expanding testing and improving the treatment times for people with latent tuberculosis infection.

The move is in response to countries’ request for guidance on how to scale up preventative measures for people who may not currently show symptoms of illness, but are susceptible to incurring and developing active TB infection. That includes those living with HIV and those who are HIV negative but are exposed or in contact with patients with pulmonary and multidrug resistant, or MDR, TB.

Of the 30 countries identified by WHO as having high burden of HIV-associated TB, only 12 are currently providing preventive treatment among people with HIV. In addition, only 13 percent of 1.3 million children vulnerable to the disease received preventive treatment in 2016.

“We hope the new guidelines will disrupt the status quo in many countries and leapfrog global implementation of TB prevention efforts,” said Dr. Haileyesus Getahun, coordinator for TB/HIV and community engagement from the WHO’s global TB program, in a news release.

The guideline is hoped to provide an additional boost in efforts to reduce TB burden worldwide, and comes in the lead-up to what advocates hope will be the most important political meeting on the disease to date — the first United Nations high-level meeting on TB. The meeting has yet to be scheduled, but advocates hope it will take place in September during the U.N. General Assembly ...

But come September — if the meeting is indeed scheduled to coincide with the U.N. General Assembly — advocates want more solid, actionable commitments, not lofty goals backed by empty promises.

Read the full article on the push for more action in fighting tuberculosis by Jenny Lei Ravelo at Devex International Development.