World Tuberculosis Day, 24 March 2012, is making inroads with an awareness platform as the second top infectious adult killer after HIV/AIDS. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visiting a clinic in Malaysia this week (Photo: Courtesy of UN Photos): “I call for intensified global solidarity to ensure that all people are free from fear of tuberculosis and its devastating effects. Let us vow to end the neglect of TB and to end deaths from this disease in our lifetime.” “It is critical to support those who lack the means to respond with the care and treatment they need to enjoy healthy and productive lives,” said Mr. Ban. “With the right interventions, we can make a major difference.”
TB is an infectious bacterial disease most commonly affecting the lungs. Although treatable and curable, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared TB a global health emergency. TB can be spread by a simple sneeze or cough. The developing world suffers most due to inadequate funding for healthcare systems and treatment.
Most devastating is a multi-drug resistant form of TB (MDR-TB), a mutant, resulting in close to one-third of patients dying from the disease. Persons with HIV/AIDS are even more susceptible. For a more in-depth analysis, see current news event article: “World TB Day 2012: Ensuring Treatable Disease Is Actually Treatable, By David Greeley & Renuka Gaddle
The ravages of TB extend to the whole family, communities, and the youngest members of society. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Stop TB Partnership, childhood TB continues to be overlooked despite availability of treatment. The disease often goes undiagnosed in children under the age of 15 because they lack access to health services or health workers do not recognize the signs and symptoms of TB in that age group. 200 children die from TB every day. Yet it costs less than three cents a day to provide therapy that will prevent children from becoming ill with TB and 50 cents a day to provide treatment that will cure the disease.
Mr. Ban pointed out that some 46 million people have been cured and 7 million lives have been saved since 1995 thanks to the efforts of the UN, governments, donors, civil society groups, private partners, public health experts, and tens of thousands of health workers and affected families and communities.
“Now is the time to be even more ambitious and 'Stop TB In Our Lifetime',” stressed Mr. Ban, referring to the theme of this year's Day.
By, Susan Sacirbey
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