It’s ‘time to #EndTB’, says UN on World Tuberculosis Day

OCHA/Zinnia Bukhari
A woman with tuberculosis in Pakistan went undiagnosed for five years because she could not afford the $2 transportation cost from her village to the Civil Hospital in Tharparkar.


Tuberculosis, or TB, is not only the world’s top infectious killer, it is also the leading cause of deaths among people with HIV and a major cause of antimicrobial resistance-related deaths, the United Nations health agency said on Sunday, World Tuberculosis Day.

TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer, claiming nearly 4,500 lives each year and afflicting close to 30,000 others according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Since 2000, global efforts to combat this preventable and curable disease have saved an estimated 54 million lives and reduced the TB mortality rate by 42 per cent. “The theme of this year’s World TB Day is: It’s time to end TB,” saidTedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, leading the global call to “Find. Treat. All. #EndTB”

In line with WHO’s overall drive towards Universal Health Coverage, on this World TB Day, WHO calls on Governments, affected communities, civil society organizations, health-care providers, and national/international partners to unite forces under the banner “Find. Treat. All. #EndTB” to ensure no one is left behind.

To accelerate the TB response, Heads of State came together in September 2018 and made strong commitments to end the disease at the first-ever UN High Level Meeting.

“We’re highlighting the urgent need to translate commitments made at the 2018 UN High Level Meeting on TB into actions that ensure everyone who needs TB care can get it,” stated the WHO chief.

Last week, WHO issued new guidance to improve treating multidrug-resistant TB and, made recommendations that included cross-sector actions to monitor and review progress; prioritized planning and implementation of TB interventions; and a task force to ensure meaningful civil society engagement.

“This is a set of pragmatic actions that countries can use to accelerate progress and act on the high-level commitments made in the first-ever UN High Level Meeting on TB last September,” said Dr. Tereza Kasaeva, Director WHO’s Global TB Programme.

Migrants at high risk

Because TB is contagious and airborne, migrants are among the high-risk vulnerable groups, according to the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM).

IOM pointed out that many work in dangerous, difficult jobs, and live in sub-standard housing. Others may be detained in over-crowded detention facilities or live in refugee or internally displaced persons camps.

Moreover, migrants face language, administrative and cultural barriers in accessing health services and are often excluded from social protection and universal health coverage programmes.

As a result, whose who pay out-of-pocket for health services can end with catastrophic health expenditures and substandard care.

“It’s time for inclusion of migrants!” IOM spelled out, urging that ambitious goals be set for successful treatments with accountable TB commitments.

Each 24 March, the world commemorates TB Day to raise awareness of the devastating health, social and economic consequences of the disease, and to step up efforts to end the global epidemic. It marks the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of the bacterium that causes TB – opening the way towards diagnosing and curing this infection.