Following the announcement by UK’s Global Health Minister Morton of a new UK aid funded research programme in July, the LIGHT consortium held its launch event today. Led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), LIGHT aims to transform gendered pathways to health for those with tuberculosis in urban, HIV-prevalent settings and to stop the spread of TB.
The event brought together members of the consortium with external and internal advisory groups to help ensure that LIGHT’s outputs will be relevant, appropriate and have the maximum potential for achieving impact on policymaking and practice during and beyond the life of the programme.
LIGHT aims, ultimately, to leave no-one affected by TB in sub-Saharan Africa behind. The research programme will do this by enabling and supporting global and national policy environments and health systems to improve sustainable, equitable access to quality TB services and medical products, to reduce TB mortality and morbidity among men, women and children. Through its work, LIGHT will generate new evidence, strengthen capacity, strategically engage with key stakeholders and monitor, evaluate and share learning along the way.
According to Professor Bertie Squire, Dean of Clinical Sciences and International Public Health at LSTM and Research Director of the Programme, “there is increasing evidence that global efforts to end the TB and HIV epidemics are undermined by under-diagnosis, under-treatment and under-reporting, especially among men, who contribute to continuing disease transmission, including to women and children. It is essential that we find transformational ways to End TB by ensuring that TB drugs, diagnostics, and, eventually, vaccines are deployed so that they can have maximum impact. We are delighted, especially at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, to have been awarded this funding and anticipate deploying almost £8m strategically over the coming six years, increasing the returns on investments in research and development for new TB technologies.”
The LIGHT consortium includes leading organisations working in global health, led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), with the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP), Respiratory Society of Kenya (RESOK) –[formerly Kenya Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (KAPTLD)], Makerere University Lung Institute (MLI), Zankli Research Centre (ZRC) , Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (MLW) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).
LIGHT’s External Consortium Advisory Group’s Chair, Dr Bhargavi Rao, highlights that “COVID19 is not the only pandemic that we are facing – tuberculosis remains the cause of the highest number of deaths from an infectious disease each year. As we are seeing playing out before us - both diseases have significant economic and social impact, including isolation, stigma, and discrimination which lead to increased burden. Both diseases are forcing us to rethink our paradigms about vulnerability and access to care, requiring multidisciplinary lenses. The LIGHT Consortium not only has these objectives as its focus, but also is leading by example in centring its work in proximity to the communities affected and its responsibility to researchers in those countries.”
It’s Time to End TB.
LIGHT is a six-year cross-disciplinary global health research programme funded by UK aid, led by LSTM working with partners in Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda and the UK. LIGHT aims to support policy and practice in transforming gendered pathways to health for those with TB in urban, HIV-prevalent settings to improve health, socio-economic and equity outcomes and to stop the spread of TB.
LIGHT’s partners are:
- Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) UK
- London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) UK
- African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) Kenya & Malawi
- Makerere University Lung Institute (MLI) Uganda
- Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (MLW) Malawi
- Respiratory Society of Kenya (RESOK) Kenya (formerly Kenya Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, KAPTLD)
- Zankli Research Centre (ZRC) Nigeria