Written by Great Emefeke, Pharm.D
World Tuberculosis Day, observed on 24 March each year, is designed to build public awareness about the global epidemic of tuberculosis (TB) and efforts to eliminate the disease.
The date marks the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease.
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body.
The classic symptoms of active TB are a chronic cough with blood-containing sputum, chills, fever, night sweats, loss of appetite, weight loss, and fatigue.
It is spread through the air when people who have active TB in their lungs cough, spit, speak, or sneeze.
Despite most cases being curable with a six-month treatment regimen that costs less than $40 dollars, there are still over nine million people who contract TB every year, including one million cases in children.
Nearly 1.8 million people lose their lives each year to TB, making it the leading global infectious killer. That’s one death every three minutes – all of which could have been cured and avoided.
Global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 54 million lives since the year 2000 and reduced the TB mortality rate by 42%. Several organizations including the WHO, the CDC, and the Stop TB Partnership are leading the way to a world without tuberculosis. Reducing the inequitable social and economic toll of the disease is part of their mission.
The theme of this year’s World TB Day is: It’s Time! It places urgency on the need to take action to end TB globally.
- It’s time to ensure that every TB patient has access to effective diagnosis, treatment, and cure.
- It’s time to develop and implement new preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic tools and strategies to stop TB.
- It’s time we strengthen TB education and awareness among health care providers and the general public.
- It’s time to end the stigma.
- It’s time to speak up. It’s time for action!