India leads BRICS countries in R&D to eliminate TB, says study

India and the other BRICS countries that have the highest number of TB cases have put in more money and work between 2007 and 2016

India has poured the highest amount of funds into research to eliminate TB among BRICS nations, a study has found.

Although the United States, given their history of research, continues to dominate in the funding and research and development (R&D) for the infectious disease, India and the other BRICS countries that have the highest number of TB cases have put in more money and work between 2007 and 2016.

Research is crucial for the ‘END TB strategy’, a global effort to eliminate TB. The bibliometric analysis — a statistical analysis of written publications — published in the science journal PLOS One on June 25, shows that India accounted for 9.7 per cent of the references for research papers published between January 2007 to December 2016.

India has the highest disease burden for TB in the world, with 4,23,000 deaths and 27,90,000 cases in 2016.

Scientists have said the country will have to take charge of its own research, instead of relying on work done in countries with different conditions and different needs, if it wants to beat the disease.

The Indian government’s stated goal is to eliminate TB from the country by 2025, five years ahead of the WHO’s global target.

One effort India has made towards its goal is the global India TB Research Consortium. Headed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), with scientists and interested parties from across the world involved, it has been researching on newer diagnostics, drugs and potential vaccines candidates to help fight the disease.

Currently, United States leads with 18.4 per cent of references in published studies.

However, at 13.7 per cent, BRICS — Brazil, India, China, Russia, South Africa — had the highest annual growth rate of publications on TB. The global average is 7.3 per cent, higher than the growth rate found in a previous bibliometric analysis of the years 1997 to 2006.

China closely followed India with 7.3 per cent of references. Frequently acknowledged funders were US and EU-based, said the analysis, with China and India emerging as top funders.

Publications are not just indicators of the amount and quality of research going into TB but also of collaborations between countries.

So far, collaborations are common between low to middle income countries (LMIC) such as India and high income but low burden countries such as the US and those in the EU.

The analysis says that collaborations between LMICs, especially those with similar conditions, such as India, Brazil and South Africa, will be more beneficial for productivity.


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By Aradhna Wal

Published: July 8, 2018, 2:15 p.m.

Last updated: July 8, 2018, 2:20 p.m.

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