Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious and airborne disease. It ranks as the second leading cause of death from an infectious disease worldwide, after the HIV/AIDS. However, Progress towards global targets for reductions in TB cases and deaths in recent years has been impressive. The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target to halt and reverse the TB epidemic by 2015 has already been achieved. TB mortality has fallen over 40% worldwide since 1990, and incidence is declining. New TB tools such as rapid diagnostics are helping transform response to the disease.
But the global burden remains huge and significant challenges persist:
• Over 95% of TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Poor communities and vulnerable groups are most affected, but this airborne disease is a risk to all.
• There were an estimated 0.5 million cases and 64 000 deaths among children in 2011;
• There is slow progress in tackling multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB): with 60 000 patients enrolled in treatment by end 2011 — this is only one in five of the notified TB patients estimated to have MDR-TB.
• Provision of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for TB patients known to be living with HIV needs to double to meet WHO’s recommendation that all TB patients living with HIV promptly receive ART.
In order to address those challenges, World TB Day will be observed tomorrow with the slogan “Stop TB in My Lifetime”. It encourages people all over the world, from the youngest to the oldest, to make an individual call for the elimination of TB, and say what changes they expect to take place in their lifetimes.
In their lifetimes, today’s children should expect to see a world where no one gets sick with TB. And, in their lifetimes, women and men should expect to see a world where no one dies from TB. From a faster treatment, to a quick, cheap, low-tech test that is accessible to all, to an effective vaccine, we all have different hopes.
Everyone has a role to play so that one day TB will be eliminated. We can only reach the goal of TB elimination by working together to detect, treat, and prevent this disease. The fight to stop TB will only be successful if local, state, national, and international partners from all sectors of our society join resources and collaborate to find solutions. Our united effort is needed to reach those at highest risk for TB and to identify and implement innovative strategies to improve testing and treatment among high-risk populations.
Source: WHO, CDC