World TB Day 2010: On the Move Against Tuberculosis

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Today is World Tuberculosis Day; it’s celebrated annually on March 24th. The event is used to raise awareness about the ongoing fight against the disease. This year’s theme is on innovation and focuses on individuals around the world who have found new ways to stop TB and can serve as an inspiration to others.

WorldTBDay

Tuberculosis or TB, which is short for Tubercles Bacillus, is a common and often deadly infectious disease caused by mycobacteria in humans. TB usually attacks the lungs but it can also affect other parts of the body. More than 2 billion people are infected with TB bacilli; 1 in 10 will become sick with active TB in their lifetime [1]. Left untreated, more than 50% of those infected will die from the disease.

Over the past several years there have been important advances in TB research. Nevertheless, tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world. More resources are needed to turn scientific discoveries into new and better diagnostics, drugs and vaccines. Additionally, further study is needed to determine how to make TB services more accessible and efficient.

The aim of the 2010 World TB campaign is to recognize people who have introduced a variety of innovations in a variety of settings:

  • research aimed at developing new diagnostics, drugs or vaccines
  • operational research, aimed at making TB care more effective and efficient
  • new approaches to helping people gain access to TB diagnosis and treatment
  • novel partnerships between actors in the fight against TB
  • advances in integrating TB care into health systems
  • new approaches to providing support from members of the community to people affected by TB
  • innovative ways of raising awareness about TB

Effective business strategies to help halt the spread of TB

Global health leaders recognize the crucial role that businesses play in the fight against tuberculosis. Top multinational business and non-profit leaders, including executives from BD, Pfizer Inc., the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria , The Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation and the Stop TB Partnership, met in New York to discuss the role of the private sector in curbing the spread of TB. The video below highlights comments from the meeting:

The participants agreed that strategic public-private partnerships are the key to success. They further recognized that building capacity to diagnose and treat TB also creates an infrastructure that can be sustained and applied to other future health crises.

Stop TB Strategy

The Stop TB Strategy was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1998 [2]. It’s goal is to dramatically reduce the global burden of tuberculosis by 2015 and ensure that all TB patients benefit from universal access to high-quality diagnosis and patient-centered treatment. The Stop TB Partnership aims to push tuberculosis up the world political agenda and focuses on expanding the use of the Stop TB Strategy, forming a drug facility to provide free or low cost tuberculosis drugs, and a global charter to map the world response to the epidemic. For more on tuberculosis and the Stop TB strategy, visit the Stop TB Partnership.

References

  1. 2009 Update Tuberculosis Facts. World Health Organization. Accessed 2010 Mar 24.
  2. The Stop TB Strategy. World Health Organization. Accessed 2010 Mar 24.
About the Author

Walter Jessen is a senior writer for Highlight HEALTH Media.