World TB Day: Fighting The Global Killer
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

On the eve of World Tuberculosis Day, US ambassador James F Moriarty writes on the fight against a global killer that claims nearly 2 million lives a year.

Dhaka, March 23 (—Almost a century ago, America was locked in a battle against tuberculosis, which killed thousands annually and was one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

Today, even though a cure for drug-sensitive TB has existed for more than 50 years, TB remains second only to HIV among infectious killers worldwide.

It is a disease that hits the poorest and most vulnerable groups, especially women and children.

This is why the World Health Organisation recognises a day each year, World Tuberculosis Day on March 24th, to call attention to the disease and to mobilise action to combat it.

One-third of the world's population is infected with dormant TB. Approximately 9.2 million people develop the active form of the disease each year. This highly contagious active form spreads through the air from one person to another through coughing and sneezing. About 1.7 million people die annually of TB.

The American people are making major investments to prevent and control TB in countries around the world where the burden of the disease is highest. Through active engagement in the STOP TB Partnership, the US is a key partner to intense global efforts to achieve the Partnership's Global Plan targets to halve TB prevalence and deaths by 2015 relative to 1990 levels.

Achieving this goal could save 14 million lives, not to mention the economic benefits for nations.

There is good news to share. According to The 2009 Global Tuberculosis Control Report, released today by the WHO, TB prevalence and death rates are falling globally, while detection of new cases of TB and access to high-quality anti-TB treatments are on the rise.

Three of six regions in the world (Americas, Eastern Mediterranean and South-East Asia) are on track to achieve the Global Plan's 2015 targets, and the Western Pacific Region is making strong strides toward the goal.

Bangladesh, like many other countries around the world, has achieved remarkable progress in controlling TB over the past several years. Diagnostic and treatment services are now widely available across the country, contributing to high detection and treatment success rates.

However, much work remains to be done. Neither Africa nor Europe is on track to meet the targets. Because HIV fuels the TB epidemic, the number of HIV-positive TB cases and deaths are twice what was previously thought. Multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB threatens to undermine years of progress in TB control, because the treatment requires different and more costly drugs.

New approaches to diagnose TB, coupled with improved health delivery systems and stronger community awareness, are critical to earlier detection and treatment.

The United States remains fully committed to working with all of our partners to renew the charge against TB. The American people have donated $3.3 billion to the Global Fund (to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria) since 2002. Almost $1.71 billion has been approved by the GF for TB grants in 91 countries. Global Fund investments have provided 3.9 million people with treatment for tuberculosis.

On World Tuberculosis Day, the United States renews its pledge to work with countries and the international community to successfully implement the Global Plan to Stop TB. The lives of millions of people across the globe depend on true international cooperation.


Comments Add New
Laura Bartnicki |2009-06-16 20:52:10
I work in a clinical microbiology lab near Chicago,Il. My time spent in the Mycobacteriology lab is my favorite. I want to help with this cause of TB eradication! Let me know how I can help.
Thank You and good luck!
Laura Bartnicki
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