Worldwide, tuberculosis (TB) is known to have the highest death rate of all infectious diseases — far more than Covid-19. Approximately 10 million new cases of TB emerge annually, more than 4 million of which are thought to be undiagnosed. Efforts to find effective and accessible therapies are therefore essential, especially for the developing world.

Amina Jindani, Emeritus Professor of Tuberculosis Therapeutics at St. George’s, University of London, has been engaged in this effort for many decades.

She recently led a team of scientists in a clinical trial which found a higher dose of the TB drug rifampicin given for a shorter duration — four months, instead of the standard six — to be safe for patients. The trial aimed to improve adherence to TB treatment, which is crucial in reducing transmission and deaths associated with the disease. 

Prof Amina

Professor Amina Jindani has a goal to help eliminate the scourge of tuberculosis worldwide.
Professor Amina Jindani has a goal to help eliminate the scourge of tuberculosis worldwide.

“In the absence of an effective vaccine, I believe that making TB treatment as accessible as possible and reducing its duration from the current six months are our best options for eradicating the disease across the world,” Professor Jindani said about the breakthrough.

“This is good news for people diagnosed with TB,” she added. “It simplifies their treatment — meaning they are more likely to complete the full course, giving them the best chance of being cured, whilst slashing the cost which is a huge barrier in developing countries.”

The importance of this work is underscored by the number and prominence of organisations who came forward to fund the trial. These include the UK’s Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, and the Aga Khan Foundation Canada. 

Research-backed medical breakthroughs such as this are vital for enhancing our understanding of health, improving patient care, preventing disease, reducing healthcare costs, and advancing medical technology. They can have far-reaching implications for both individual well-being and public health.

Professor Amina Jindani’s major achievement is the latest in her 40-year endeavour to help improve global health. In 2018, she was presented with the Ibn Sina Award for Medicine by the Muslim News Awards for Excellence in the United Kingdom, and in 2019, she was bestowed with two honours: a Professorship at the University of London; and the Princess Chichibu Memorial TB Global Award by the Japan Anti TB Association for her lifelong commitment to the elimination of the disease.

Despite the latest success, and notwithstanding her advancing age, Professor Jindani is determined to continue further TB research and has no plans to slow down until she has reached her goal — the global elimination of tuberculosis. She encourages younger members of the Jamat to consider entering this field of activity and research: 

“Africa and poorer countries bear the brunt of the disease but there’s no room for complacency in the UK, Europe or North America as large-scale migration and travel continue to pose a challenge to our ultimate goal of eliminating the disease. That’s why it’s vital we continue our research to find the most effective therapies which are affordable and accessible to countries worldwide.”