The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Sub-Saharan Africa gets Much Needed Help
Earlier this month, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation granted $1.9 million to the International Tuberculosis Foundation (IFT). Along with a National Institute of Health (NIH) grant, the ITF received nearly $5 million in funding. This money will be used to help manage and treat lung diseases that cause an alarming number of deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.
Lung Disease in Africa
According to a report distributed by a conglomerate of U.S. and African-based universities and health organizations, tuberculosis accounts for 1.5 million deaths a year. However, there has been a 50 percent decrease in mortality rates for tuberculosis over the last 25 years in sub-Saharan Africa. These changes have been heavily attributed to national and international organizations that have sought to end lung disease as a major cause of death in Africa.
Model for Fighting Lung Disease
The ITF has decided to use the money, which will be distributed over a five-year period, to develop a small-scale model that will allow the organization to eventually manage, treat and control tuberculosis in Africa. If successful with the small-scale model, the project could one day be scaled up to confront the issue over a larger population, and eventually, the entire continent.
The ITF Executive Director, Jerry Woolley, said the following when asked about the scale model approach: “The reason for our involvement needs no justification. Sub-Saharan Africa, more than any other part of the world, is experiencing a catastrophe in terms of preventable lung disease and avoidable death. This generous grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation allows us to build a control model, and eventually, eliminate lung diseases from sub-Saharan Africa by working on a smaller scale first in Malawi.”
He continued by noting that “the premise behind this model is not a quick fix. The structures will not only treat the infected; they will also prevent further spread of the disease.”
Lung Disease in the United States
With these resounding grants being given to fight a lung disease, those suffering can breathe a sigh of relief. Obviously, tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa is a major human health concern and should be confronted broadly and swiftly. However, those suffering from other lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pulmonary fibrosis are asking when their disease will be discussed on these scales. To date, lung disease is the third leading cause of death in America according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Lung Institute has provided a promising answer to those looking for an innovative treatment for lung disease. We use cells from the patient’s own body to help promote healing and return lung function. Although we are still quite far from a cure for lung disease, or even a broad approach to treating them, using cells as a treatment option opens up the possibilities for future advancements and—one day—a cure.
If you or a loved one suffers from a lung disease and are looking for an alternative treatment option, the Lung Institute is here to give them to you. Contact us by calling (800) 729-3065 today, and we will let you know if cellular therapy is a possible treatment for your lung disease.