World TB Day, falling on March 24th each year, is designed to build 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. The theme of World TB Day 2018 is “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world”.
World TB Day 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.
For World TB Day, WHO is calling on countries and partners to "Unite to End TB". This is an ambitious aim. While there has been significant progress in the fight against TB, with 43 million lives saved since 2000, the battle is only half-won.
Last year, WHO reported that 10.4 million people fell ill with TB and there were 1.8 million TB deaths in 2016, making it the top infectious killer worldwide.
Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world
The theme focuses on building commitment to end TB, not only at the political level with Heads of State and Ministers of Health, but at all levels from Mayors, Governors, parliamentarians and community leaders, to people affected with TB, civil society advocates, health workers, doctors or nurses, NGOs and other partners. All can be leaders of efforts to end TB in their own work or terrain.
This is a critical theme, given the political importance of the upcoming UN General Assembly high-level meeting on TB this year, which will bring together Heads of State in New York. It follows on from a very successful Ministerial Conference on Ending TB in Moscow on 16-17 November, 2017 which resulted in high-level commitments from Ministers and other leaders from 120 countries to accelerate progress to end TB.
World TB Day provides the opportunity to shine the spotlight on the disease and mobilize political and social commitment for accelerate progress to end TB.
>> Source: stoptb.org; who.int