World TB Day: Unite to End TB

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On World TB Day, the Global Fund partnership celebrates the major advances made against tuberculosis, while it shines a light on a harsh truth. Despite being an entirely curable illness, tuberculosis is now the leading infectious disease killer in the world, taking the lives of 1.5 million people each year – even more than HIV.

It is often the most vulnerable and the marginalized in society who are affected by TB, such as the very poor, migrants, prisoners, refugees, miners and people who use drugs. TB also takes a major toll on children. Too often, children with TB remain in the shadows and undiagnosed, with symptoms for TB frequently mistaken for other common childhood illnesses. A total of 64 percent of children with TB are never diagnosed, due to a lack of awareness and failing health systems.

Drug-resistant TB is another serious challenge. More than half a million people develop multidrug-resistant TB each year, while extensively drug-resistant TB, an even more severe form of the disease, has been reported in 105 countries.

Moreover, TB continues to be the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, accounting for nearly one in three HIV-related deaths.

TB has been taking lives since the dawn of time and its roots are deeply intertwined with economic and social inequalities. TB is a challenge to our conscience, and a litmus test for our commitment to social equality and health for all.

We must do everything we can to end the epidemic for good. And we can – millions of lives have already been saved from TB.

For the first time in history, there is a global plan to end TB. It calls for a paradigm shift to drive bold action and ambitious change, focusing on marginalized groups, approaches grounded in human rights and gender equity, and involving communities affected by TB and integrated health systems.

A new campaign called “Louder Than TB”, which brings together a coalition of partners across many sectors, calls on the world community to put more resources and attention on a disease that is relatively neglected on the global stage – especially when it comes to its most vulnerable targets: children.

The Global Fund provides more than three-quarters of all international financing for TB, focusing on countries with the highest disease burden and with the highest proportion of affected populations. It also invests in building resilient and sustainable systems for health, which are critically important to end epidemics. The Global Fund’s Strategy is fully aligned with the goal to end the global TB epidemic by 2030.

We must grasp this historic opportunity to build a world where all human beings are treated with dignity and equality. We must end TB for good.

End TB. For Good.

Tuberculosis is an entirely curable disease and we must end it – for good. In a 40-second video, we highlight the progress and challenges facing the world in order to meet the global goal of ending the epidemic by 2030.

Published 23 March 2016