March 24th marks the 19th annual World TB Day (WTBD). WTBD commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch first discovered the bacilli that causes TB. The world has known what causes TB for over 100 years and has had the cure for nearly 90 years, yet every year 9 million people contract TB and one third of them never receive a diagnosis. TB still kills 1.4 million people every year. This year marks the 19th annual World TB Day, and it is time for change.
Why does TB persist, despite a cure being widely available? Partly because the overwhelming majority of new cases and deaths from the disease occur among the poorest people in the world’s poorest countries. The global political priority for genuinely stepping up the response is low. Politicians are not deliberately or willfully ignoring the issue; just among all the other issues they have to deal with, the TB epidemic is not one affecting them, their country or their constituents.
We need to change that.This month we’re going to be spending World TB Day in London, bringing the message to our Parliamentarians that this is an issue they need to care about here and now. We’re also going to be sending out a message to the CEOs of mining companies attending a key TB in Mining meeting In Johannesburg that they cannot continue to ignore the needs and lives of their workers; and calling on them to seize the chance to put steps in place to make real change.
TB is local, TB is global. We need joined up action to bring the epidemic to an end. Take action now