Bringing Attention To The Threat Of Tuberculosis On World TB Day
March 24, 2014

Bringing Attention To The Threats Of Tuberculosis On World TB Day

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

Global partnerships and significant medical research are a big part of this year’s World Tuberculosis Day. Celebrated each year on March 24, World TB Day is a marked as a time to bring attention to the threat of tuberculosis, a disease that affects nearly nine million people a year.


For the World Health Organization (WHO), this year’s slogan for World TB Day is “Reach 3 Million.” Despite TB’s curability, efforts to diagnose, treat and cure everyone who becomes ill are not sufficient. Of the nine million who get sick from TB annually, as many as a third are missed by health systems.

Many of the three million missed individuals are from the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities around the world. TB also often affects populations with migrant workers, refugees, prisoners, ethnic minorities and drug users.

WHO has joined up with the Stop TB Partnership to promote World TB Day and to help communities, governments, civil society organizations, healthcare providers and international partners put the call out to reach the three million missed TB patients around the world. All partners can help in ensuring that all persons suffering from TB have access to diagnosis, treatment and cure.

March 24 is also a day for those involved in TB research and treatment to raise awareness about the burden of TB worldwide and the status of TB prevention and control efforts, as well as an occasion to mobilize political and social commitments for further progress.

There have been impressive reductions in the number of TB cases and deaths in recent years, states WHO. Mortality from TB has dropped by more than 45 percent since 1990, and TB incidence is also declining. However, the global burden remains significant and challenges persist.

According to WHO data, about 8.6 million new cases of TB were diagnosed in 2012, of which 1.3 million resulted in death. More than 95 percent of TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries and poor communities are among the most affected regions. Also, TB is among the top three causes of death for women between the ages of 15 and 44. The WHO said that 74,000 children also died of TB in 2012.

Another challenge is the slow progress in tackling extensively drug-resistant TB. Seventy-five percent of these cases remain without a diagnosis, according to the WHO data. Furthermore, about 16,000 such cases reported in 2012 were not treated.


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also recognizing World TB Day, which commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB.

The CDC selected “Find TB. Treat TB. Working together to eliminate TB.” as this year’s theme for World TB Day to bring attention to a life-threatening problem that still exists throughout the United States, despite the declining number of cases worldwide.

The CDC maintains that anyone can get TB and the current efforts to find, treat and cure latent TB infection and disease are not sufficient. It notes that misdiagnosis of TB still exists and healthcare professionals often do not “think TB.”

The CDC’s World TB Day theme encourages local and state TB programs to reach out to communities to raise awareness about TB. It maintains that through partnerships, fighting TB can be easier, especially for those who are most at risk for the disease: those with HIV, diabetes or who are homeless. Everyone has a role in ensuring the one day TB will be eliminated. The CDC and its partners are committed to a TB-free world.

A TB-free world will only be successful if local, state, national and international partners pool their resources and collaborate to find solution to a global killer. “Our united effort is needed to reach those at highest risk for TB and to identify an implement new strategies to improve testing and treatment among high-risk populations,” says the CDC.

The CDC and its domestic and international partners, which include the National TB Controllers Association, Stop TB USA and the global Stop TB Partnership, are taking several steps to stop the spread of TB and reduce the overall burden of the disease. Efforts range from developing new treatments to increasing the capacity of healthcare professionals, as well as providing adequate treatment for all and issuing new recommendations for improved testing and treatment protocols.


Also making headlines this World TB Day is a multitude of TB research appearing in several The Lancet journal articles, reviews and comments this week.

To mark the Stop TB Partnerships’ World TB Day, The Lancet journals has published a series of Reviews, Comments and Articles to bring global attention to tuberculosis in the hope of raising this disease higher up the agendas of international communities.

The publications discuss a number of topics ranging from MDR-TB to the role of advocacy in TB, as well as bringing attention to new anti-TB drugs and highlighting key areas and challenges that need to be met in order to win the fight against TB.

The following are articles appearing in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine:

Global control of tuberculosis: from extensively drug resistant to untreatable tuberculosis

Progress in tuberculosis vaccine development and host-directed therapies

Totally-drug-resistant tuberculosis: hype versus hope

Child health and tuberculosis

The evolving role of advocacy in tuberculosis

The following articles appear in The Lancet Infectious Disease:

New anti-tuberculosis drugs, regimens, and adjunct therapies: needs, advances, and future prospects

Advancing the portfolio of tuberculosis diagnostics, drugs, biomarkers, and vaccines

The following appears in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology:

TANDEM: understanding diabetes and tuberculosis


As well as a multitude of research appearing in The Lancet journals, a new study published today in the online issue of the European Respiratory Journal marks the first time physicians have come together to release new consensus statements in the efforts to tackle the growing threat of MDR-TB and extensively drug-resistant TB.

"These consensus statements provide very valuable support for physicians treating patients with these deadly conditions in all parts of Europe. The current management of patients with multidrug- and extensively drug-resistant TB is complex, very costly for healthcare systems and burdensome for those who are affected,” said Prof Christoph Lange, lead author of the paper from the Head of the Respiratory Infections Assembly at the European Respiratory Society.

"We have harmonized individual expert opinions on the management of multidrug- and extensively drug-resistant TB in adults and children to ensure that consensus is available where clinical evidence is still lacking. As clinicians we hope to improve the treatment of multidrug- and extensively drug-resistant TB and the life of our patients who suffer from these difficult-to-treat conditions."