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Hosted by: The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease

30 October - 03 November 2013

Palais des Congres, Paris, France

Progress report of the training:

1) Objectives for attending this conference

  • To gain a comprehensive view of the current global TB research agenda
  • Exposure to discussions on the country challenges in TB control
  • Engaging with and learning from other scientists on research activity
  • To seek networking opportunity with other scientists and stakeholders
  • To understand the direction and pipeline of future TB research

2) Agenda of the conference

This annual international conference was held at the Palais des Congrès in Paris, France from 30 Oct – 3 Nov 2013. It is the largest annual meeting focusing on lung health issues as they affect low- and middle-income countries. The aim of this meeting is to discuss the latest research and programme developments in the fights against tuberculosis, the growing threat of MDR-TB and lung disease, as well as related problems, such as HIV, non-communicable diseases.

Below is a list of the sessions I attended:

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 : Stop TB Symposium

Specific objectives of the Stop TB Symposium:

  1. To inform and seek feedback from a wide range of stakeholders on the process of taking forward the Research Pillar of the post-2015 TB strategy and related targets
  2. To discuss a potential framework for promotion of research aspects of the Strategy, for engagement of new partners and for widening the array of collaborations.

Thurs, 31 October 2013: Postgraduate course - Tuberculosis diagnostic research: providing comprehensive evidence to support local and national strategy

Specific objectives of postgraduate course:

  1. Understand the importance of engaging with tools to enhance the impact assessment (IA) of new TB diagnostics
  2. Develop skills to make appropriate use of controlled trials, cost effectiveness, and computer modelling
  3. Help delegates apply IA techniques to evaluate new TB diagnostics such as Xpert, and LPA in their own context
  4. Facilitate delegates from different contexts and roles learning from each others experiences.

Friday 01 Nov 2013: Symposia

1. Improved TB diagnostics adding new dynamics to TB control

Specific objectives:

  1. To review progress and achievements of TB laboratory strengthening efforts
  2. To cross-share experience of countries and their technical partners in uptake of new TB diagnostics
  3. To describe how new diagnostics affect overall TB care and control in the public and private sectors

2. Translating mycobacterium tuberculosis molecular diagnostics into clinical management

Specific objectives:

  1. Explain the test characteristics needed for molecular diagnosis to replace conventional DST
  2. Describe the sensitivity and specificity of molecular diagnostics for predicting drug resistance phenotypes
  3. To explore gene mutations involved in the resistance of anti-TB drugs
  4. Outline laboratory, clinical and policy concerns about molecular diagnostics as stand-alone DST platforms
  5. Actively involve delegates/presenters in discussions regarding TB gene mutations & their clinical relevance

3. New and classical TB diagnostics: together enhancing the management of challenging TB cases

Specific objectives:

  1. Understand new and current diagnostic technologies and how they can complement each other
  2. Describe the challenges in implementing WHO recommended tests in high-burden countries
  3. Learn about how diagnostic technologies will be implemented in the field in the future

Saturday 02 Nov 2013: Symposia

1. Optimising TB control in high-HIV prevalence settings

Specific objectives:

  1. Summarise TB-HIV modelling research, highlighting gaps in literature and current research areas
  2. Describe the TB-HIV Modelling Research Agenda focusing on areas of greatest potential impact
  3. Present recent research projects aimed to inform current control efforts
  4. Motivate more research and engagement in this critical area.

2. Can new diagnostic tools reduce the time to appropriate TB treatment initiation?

Specific objectives:

  1. To present a comprehensive approach for the impact assessment of new diagnostic tools
  2. To present data from 3 settings with different approaches for implementing either LPA and/or Xpert MTB/RIF
  3. To show how virtual implementation can help in the decision making process for implementation and scale-up
  4. Show how process evaluation and policy transfer analysis improve uptake of research into policy and practice

3. Life beyond Xpert: access to new point-of-care TB diagnostics in an increasingly competitive market 

  1. Examine the TB diagnostics landscape to compare operational characteristics of new diagnostics and Xpert
  2. Describe trends in Xpert market share, including historical and projected uptake and diffusion of Xpert
  3. Review lessons learnt from Xpert rollout: was Xpert deployed, monitored, and evaluated as expected?
  4. Estimate the remaining market share for emerging diagnostics, including barriers and incentives to switch
  5. Discuss how to ensure rapid deployment of game-changing technologies, but still foster ongoing innovation

Saturday 02 Nov 2013: Symposia

1. The Union/CDC late-breaker session

This session provided a unique opportunity to listen to interesting presentations and stimulating discussions on the challenges of TB control.

3) Did attendance to this conference meet the needs you originally described?

Yes, it did. It served as excellent foundation for me to launch my career as an independent TB researcher. The opportunity to interact with international experts during discussion has been highly beneficial in assisting me to develop research questions according to the global agenda and locally relevant needs.

4) Please highlight what was the most important/useful information you learnt during the conference?

The challenges associated with successfully implementing novel TB diagnostic tools are not unique to Southern Africa and are critical to address scientifically. The importance of operational research should never be undermined. I also learnt about virtual implementation modelling and its potential impact on TB policy decision-making.

5) What ideas/recommendations did you bring back?

I now fully appreciate the importance of in-country capacity development in Implementation/Operational research. I have since developed study protocols aimed at assessing some of the TB diagnostics operational challenges identified at the conference by various implementers.

6) How will you incorporate them in your research or training activities?

I will be conducting two self-initiated operational research studies on TB diagnostic implementation in Swaziland. This in preparation for Doctoral studies on TB Diagnostics Implementation Science.

7) How could others benefit from the conference?

Interaction with experts and exposure to scientific research in your field is crucial for the successful development of a research career.

8) Would you recommend other grantees attend this conference?

Most definitely!!