Tuberculosis Kills Over 1.6 Million People Yearly – WHO

Tuberculosis Kills Over 1.6 Million People Yearly – WHO

The World Health Organization said an estimated 1.6 million people die from Tuberculosis yearly with millions of families and communities more impacted by the disease.

The Director General of WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said this on Thursday to mark the World Tuberculosis Day–an annual event set aside to commemorate the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes tuberculosis (TB).

World TB Day is a day to educate the public about the impact of TB around the world, share successes in TB prevention and control and raise awareness of the challenges that hinders the progress toward the elimination of the devastating disease.

Ghebreyesus said that countries of the world are committed to ending the global TB epidemic by 2030, however, the COVID-19 pandemic and conflicts around the world had severely affected the services to prevent, detect and treat the epidemic which caused an increase in TB deaths for the first time in more than a decade.

“Since 2000, deaths from Tuberculosis have dropped by nearly 40 per cent and over 74 million people have received access to TB services. Yet it still kills 1.6 million people each year and affects millios more, with enormous impacts on families and communities,” he said.

WHO said that by September, world leaders will meet in New York for the second United Nations General Assembly High-level meeting on TB to invest and find a lasting solution to TB.

The WHO boss said ending TB by 2030 is an extremely ambitious target and to support the target, WHO has established a flagship initiative on TB five years ago to advance its research and to increase access to TB services.

“That’s why WHO has proposed establishing a tuberculosis (TB) Vaccine Acceleration Council, to facilitate the development, licensing and use of new TB vaccine.

“The only TB vaccine developed to date, the bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, is more than 100 years old and does not adequately protect adolescent and adult, who account for most TB transmission.

“We need to make the tools we have available to more people. But we also need new tools. Increasing drug resistance is undermining the effectiveness of some medicines that are used to treat tuberculosis” he said.

He noted that tuberculosis cannot be ended unless poverty, malnutrition, diabetes, HIV, tobacco and alcohol use, poor living and working conditions, stigma and discrimination and others are addressed which he said are the drivers of the epidemic.

Ghebreyesus added that ending TB is not only the job of WHO, the governments or health system alone, but great action and accountability from all and sundry to fight TB hence it would extend its target to the next five years to broaden its scope.

“Ending TB is not a job of the job of WHO alone or governments alone or health system alone. It will take action–and greater accountability– from all governments, agencies, donors, researchers, the private sectors and the civil society.

“For that reason, we have decided to extend the initiative for a further five years, until 2027 and broaden its scope.”


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