Fight against tuberculosis only 'half-won,' UN chief says on World Day

A child receiving Tuberculosis medicine in South Sudan under a programme supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and UNDP. Photo: UNDP South Sudan/Brian Sokol

24 March 2016 – Observing World Tuberculosis Day, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for united global efforts to end the deadly disease by 2030 as it would claim the lives of 1.5 million people this year alone.

Between 2000 and 2015, tuberculosis (TB) prevention, diagnosis and treatment saved 43 million lives. The TB mortality rate has fallen by nearly half. As such, the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of reversing TB incidence has been achieved.

“But, the fight against this deadly disease is only half-won,” the UN chief said in an annual message, noting that this year alone, TB will affect over 9.6 million men, women and children, and 1.5 million people will lose their lives.

Last year, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is one of the Agenda's targets. TB disproportionately affects the poorest and most vulnerable, the socially marginalized and those lacking access to basic services/health services.

“Therefore, progress in ending TB must go hand in hand with other Sustainable Development Goal efforts to reduce inequalities, eliminate extreme poverty, ensure social protection, achieve universal health coverage and end HIV/AIDS,” he said.

Ending the epidemic requires actions beyond ministries of health alone, and departments responsible for labour, justice, social welfare, science and technology, internal affairs and migration can all make a difference, Mr. Ban said, also stressing the need to engage affected persons and communities, as well as non-governmental organizations, researchers and the private sector.

“On this World Tuberculosis Day, I call on leaders across Government, civil society and the private sector to unite to end tuberculosis,” he said.

In its press release, the World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted that TB ranks alongside HIV/AIDS as the world's top infectious disease killer, while shining a spotlight on progress made in several countries, including India, South Africa, Russia, Brazil and Viet Nam.

India, home to more people ill with TB and multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) than any other country, has committed to achieving universal access to TB care with its campaign for a TB-Free India. Russia reports that since 2005, TB mortality rate has dropped more than 50 per cent.


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