Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for World Tuberculosis Day, observed on 24 March:
Between 2000 and 2015, tuberculosis (TB) prevention, diagnosis and treatment saved 43 million lives. The TB mortality rate has fallen by nearly half. The Millennium Development Goal target of reversing TB incidence has been achieved. But, the fight against this deadly disease is only half-won. 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 United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is one of the targets of the new Sustainable Development Goals. 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.
Total victory over TB will require a united front. Ending the epidemic requires actions beyond ministries of health alone. As the World Health Organization End TB Strategy emphasizes, departments responsible for labour, justice, social welfare, science and technology, internal affairs and migration can all make a difference. We must also do more to engage affected persons and communities, as well as non-governmental organizations, researchers and the private sector.
The task ahead is daunting. Drug-resistant TB poses a major global health risk. We need new tests to rapidly diagnose people with TB; earlier, safer, easier and shorter treatment for infection and disease; and effective new vaccines. We need to eliminate stigma and ensure all affected people have access to care. And we need to be ready to keep people healthy in the face of complex emergencies and unprecedented movements of refugees and migrants worldwide.
On this World Tuberculosis Day, I call on leaders across Government, civil society and the private sector to unite to end tuberculosis. Together we can win the fight and end the TB epidemic by 2030.