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.
Nonetheless, despite significant progress over the last decades, TB continues to be the top infectious killer worldwide, claiming over 4,500 lives every day. Indeed, the emergence of multidrug-resistant Tuberculosis poses a major health security threat and threatens to roll back gains made in the fight against TB.
This year’s theme is “Wanted: Leaders For A TB-Free World”- focuses on building commitment to end TB at every level. Anyone can be just such a leader, be he or she a head of state or minister of health, a community and society leader or a person affected by TB. Indeed, anyone can join this fight by helping to educate others about TB, and by urging governments to take action.
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.
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.