On March 24th each year, nations around the globe observe World Tuberculosis Day, to build public awareness about the global epidemic of tuberculosis.
This observance commemorates Dr. Robert Koch's 1882 discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes the disease.
Tuberculosis, or TB, is the leading cause of death from infectious diseases worldwide, infecting one third of the world’s population and killing some 1.5 million. The majority of TB deaths occur in the developing world, where the disease is closely linked to poverty and marginalization, and access to effective treatments may not be reliable. TB is also the leading killer of people living with HIV.
Prior to the advent of antibiotics in the 1940s, TB was one of the most feared diseases around. Today, we are poised to return to an era when TB is no-longer treatable due to the rise in drug-resistant disease.
This year’s theme--Leave no one behind-- aims to make TB treatment accessible for everyone. This means that, as part of the campaign to vanquish TB, we must find a way to end the stigmatization of the victims, and end discriminatory practices against them, thus helping these people overcome the barriers that keep them from accessing medical care.
By addressing the health needs of the disadvantaged, the marginalized, and people out of reach of the health system, we improve their lives and reduce the number of infected people who can, in turn, infect others.
The United States is committed to fighting tuberculosis. In focusing our efforts in countries where the burden of TB is highest, we support programs that save lives, improve access to health services for everyone, and foster a more secure world. Across the federal government, we have made this fight a priority. We continue to partner with the World Health Organization, the Stop TB Partnership, and the Global Drug Facility, to provide important support for TB control activities worldwide and achieve the world’s vision with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.
By joining in a global commitment to stop the spread of TB, and by continuing to invest and innovate, we can achieve a world free from TB.