World Tuberculosis Day, falling on March 24th each year, is designed to create public awareness that tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries. It commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus. At the time of Koch’s announcement in Berlin, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Koch’s discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB.
The theme of World TB Day 2017 is “Unite to End TB.
According to World Health Organization, Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.
In 2015, 10.4 million people fell ill with TB and 1.8 million died from the disease (including 0.4 million among people with HIV). Over 95% of TB deaths occur in low and middle-income countries. Six countries account for 60% of the total, with India leading the count, followed by Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa.
In 2015, an estimated 1 million children became ill with TB and 170 000 children died of TB (excluding children with HIV). TB is a leading killer of HIV-positive people: in 2015, 35% of HIV deaths were due to TB. Globally in 2015, an estimated 480 000 people developed multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). TB incidence has fallen by an average of 1.5% per year since 2000. This needs to accelerate to a 4–5% annual decline to reach the 2020 milestones of the “End TB Strategy”. An estimated 49 million lives were saved through TB diagnosis and treatment between 2000 and 2015. Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is among the health targets of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals
The WHO “End TB Strategy”, adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2014, is a blueprint for countries to end the TB epidemic by driving down TB deaths, incidence and eliminating catastrophic costs. It outlines global impact targets to reduce TB deaths by 90%, to cut new cases by 80% between 2015 and 2030, and to ensure that no family is burdened with catastrophic costs due to TB.
Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is among the health targets of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals. WHO has gone one step further and set a 2035 target of 95% reduction in deaths and a 90% decline in TB incidence – similar to current levels in low TB incidence countries today.
The Strategy outlines three strategic pillars that need to be put in place to effectively end the epidemic:
• Pillar 1: integrated patient-centred care and prevention
• Pillar 2: bold policies and supportive systems
• Pillar 3: intensified research and innovation
The success of the Strategy will depend on countries respecting the following 4 key principles as they implement the interventions outlined in each pillar:
• government stewardship and accountability, with monitoring and evaluation
• strong coalition with civil society organizations and communities
• protection and promotion of human rights, ethics and equity
• adaptation of the strategy and targets at country level, with global collaboration.
Over 4,000 men, women and children still die daily due to tuberculosis either due to lack of diagnosis, quality care or resistance to treatment. Like many of us think that tuberculosis is a disease of the past.
The reality is tuberculosis is still with us and many people are dying daily because of it. One third of people with tuberculosis (TB) missed out on quality care in 2015.
Let’s make TB care accessible to all. We must support World Health Organization, Governments, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) to end TB in our world. We must support TB patient in ending the death, stigma and difficulties associated with TB.
We must collectively help them increase their access to quality care. Together we CAN stop TB.
Let’s UNITE to end TB.
Pharm. Ahmed I. Yakasai, FPSN, FNIM
President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN)
March 24, 2017.