EDITORIAL: We must ramp up battle against TB

Today, is World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, which comes as an opportunity to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of the disease.

The opportunity is also taken to boost efforts to end the TB epidemic, a malady which is currently the world’s deadliest infectious killer.

Nearly 4,500 people die from TB daily in the world, with close to 30,000 falling ill with this otherwisepreventable and curable disease.

TB killed 1.6 million people in 2017 globally – while 10 million others succumbed tothe disease the same year.

According to the World Health Organisation, global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 54 million lives since year 2000 and reduced the TB mortality rate by 42 per cent.

The fight goes on and the World TB Day theme this year is ‘It’s time!’ It was adopted during the world leaders meeting at the UN General Assembly in New York on September 26, 2018.

The near-cryptic theme is intended to accentuate the urgentneed to act on the commitments made by global leaders to, among other things, scale up access to TB prevention and treatment, and also ensure sufficient and sustainable financing, including research financing.

But things seem to be turning for the worse as TB has reportedly become resistant to antimicrobials in an estimated 600,000 cases worldwide.

Worry against multidrug resistant TB grows

According to Peter Sands, head of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is on a mission to eradicate the three epidemics, and plans to spend around $12 billion on it over the next three years the world should be more worried about multidrug-resistant TB .

Indeed, the UN had set the noble global goal of eradicating the three epidemics of Aids, malaria and tuberculosis by 2030.

But, Mr Sands laments, that the blunt truth is that the world is not yet not on track for that ambition.

However, this does not mean that all is lost.

Mr Sands and the Global Fund are quite optimistic, stressing that despite grave assessment of the risks ahead significant progress has been made in the battle against the three epidemics.

For example, the numbers of deaths caused by AIDS and malaria have decreased by about a half since the start of the century, Sands said,optimistically adding that “tuberculosis – now the world’s most deadly infectious disease, killing some 1.3 million people yearly (excluding HIV co-infections) – caused about 20 per cent FEWER deaths in 2016 than in 2000.”

All this is partly the result of efforts by the Geneva based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, an international financing organization founded in 2002 to “attract, leverage and invest additional resources to end the three epidemics (AIDS, malaria and TB) thereby enabling attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals-2030.”

Drug resistance by such maladies spells doom for Mankind. Therefore, IT’S TIME– thematically speaking – we all rose to the occasion to ensure that UN’s Agenda-2030 on Health is achieved for a better world.