The Fujifilm Group is working in partnership with public and private organizations to end tuberculosis (TB), which has become a global social issue, particularly in developing countries, by focusing on "medical checkups.
Fujifilm Group's Commitment to End Tuberculosis
President & CEO
FUJIFILM Holdings Corporation
The Fujifilm Group engages in business operations that are designed to fulfill our mission of “contributing to solving social issues through business activities.” In recent years, we have shaped healthcare into our core priority business areas, as reflected in our corporate social responsibility plan for fiscal year 2030 - the Sustainable Value Plan 2030 (SVP 2030). . Within that priority area, we have identified various priority issues, including improving accessibility to medical services and contributing to the early detection of diseases. It is our aim to become a total healthcare company that offers a broad range of products and services to help prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases, all of which are vital for ensuring people can live healthy lives.
The Fujifilm Group has prioritized to end TB in recent years. TB, AIDS, and malaria are considered to be the world’s three major infectious diseases. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 set a target of “ending the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases by 2030” under Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing.
TB is estimated to kill over 1.5 million people a year worldwide. In fact, tuberculosis is responsible for the greatest number of deaths of all the infectious diseases, with the exception of COVID-19. Many people in developing countries in Asia and Africa in particular are at high risk of infection and severe illness due to inadequate access to medical services. To help address this social issue and save the lives of as many people as possible, the Fujifilm Group is strengthening its efforts to support the early detection of TB through diagnostic screenings in developing countries by providing compact and portable X-ray equipment.
I have spent many years of my Fujifilm career serving in overseas postitions in various Asian countries and have spent time managing our medical systems business. As a result of that experience, I am acutely aware of the importance of providing innovative products and services that can help improve people’s health swiftly and on a global scale. The Fujifilm Group will continue to expand initiatives designed to end tuberculosis. I hope you will follow our future progress with interest.
What is TB?
TB is an infectious disease that is transmitted when tubercle bacilli enter the lungs and can spread through the air when infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks, etc.. In the early stages of the disease, symptoms similar to those of a cold, such as cough, phlegm, and fever, may appear, and in severe cases, breathing difficulties may occur. TB infection mainly causes inflammation of the lungs, so early identification of the condition through radiography and appropriate treatment will increase the possibility of a cure.
TB is one of the three major infectious diseases*1 in the world and has an extremely high social and economic impact due to its high infectiousness and the large medical costs involved in diagnosis and treatment. It is estimated that more than 10 million people are infected annually worldwide, of which over1.5 million die. The number of TB patients in developing countries, especially in Asia and Africa, accounts for about 90% of the world's total*2 , and about 40% of new cases worldwide, or about 4 million people, are said to be undetected (latent cases). It is crutial to identify the affected persons at an early stage through screening tests in order to control the spread of infection and reduce the risk of serious illness.
Tests Required for TB Diagnosis
When a patient visits a medical institution with symptoms of suspected TB, such as cough and sputum, a chest imaging test (X-ray or CT) is first performed to check for lesions in the lungs. If abnormalities are found, sputum*3 is collected and tested for TB, and if the presence of TB bacteria is proven, pulmonary TB is diagnosed.
Figure 1. Flow of TB Diagnosis
Global TB Epidemic
The incidence rate in developing countries in Asia and Africa is generally higher than that in other countries, and in some countries the rate is extremely high, at more than 500 cases per 100,000 population per year. Japan, which until recently was considered a "medium endemic country," is now positioned as a "low endemic country," having met the WHO standard of "fewer than 10 new cases per 100,000 population per year" for the first time in the 2021 statistics.*5。
Tuberculosis cases per 100,000*6
Top Countries for Tuberculosis Incidents*6
|country name||The entire world
Percentage of new cases
|8||Democratic Republic of the Congo
Challenges of TB Care in Developing Countries
In developing countries, in addition to a lack of medical facilities, transportation infrastructure is often inadequate, and access to testing and treatment is limited, especially for those living outside urban areas. Even if patients are able to undergo testing, the correct diagnosis may not be made, and the disease may be missed and not lead to appropriate treatment.
Many are unaware that TB can be curable with early detection and treatment, so driving awareness and creating access to screening is crutial.
Inadequate access to medical care
Insufficient diagnostic techniques and knowledge
Inadequate “culture of Medical checkups”
Fujifilm Group's Efforts to Expand TB Screening
The Fujifilm Group has commercialized a portable X-ray system that is compact, lightweight, easy to carry, and simple to operate in Japan and other countries. We believe that by utilizing this device, in partnership with healthcare providers, we can bring opportunities for TB screening to people living in developing countries, especially in remote areas such as mountainous regions and remote islands.
Our X-ray device gained attraction as a TB screening tool in developing countries from heads of state and ministers of health at the "Japan-Africa Business Forum," an event held in conjunction with the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 7) in 2019. Subsequently, through the "TB Reach Program"*7 of the "Stop TB partnership"*8 , which is conducting global TB control together with WHO, and other programs, we conducted demonstrations tests of TB screening using this X-ray device in Pakistan, Zambia, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, and other countries.
As a result, the effectiveness and usefulness of this device in TB screening were recognized by the Stop TB Partnership, and it was recommended as a new TB screening tool in 2021. Furthermore, the WHO recommends to detect TB infection on the spot using AI technology on chest X-ray images in countries with few specialist physicians and insufficient resources. By providing an application that utilizes AI technology, we make it possible to check the analysis results on the spot.
Based on these achievements, the Fujifilm Group is supporting the expansion of TB screening in developing countries by providing this device in cooperation with the WHO, other public organizations, and private support groups.
We will continue to share more examples of our efforts to address social and health issues around the world as they become available.