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Opinion Pieces, Editorials, Blog Posts Recognize World TB Day

Saturday, March 24, was World Tuberculosis (TB) Day. The following is a summary of several editorials, opinion pieces, and blog posts published in recognition of the day.

  • Guardian’s “The Observer”: “Yesterday marked World TB Day … 130 years later, London is the capital of TB in western Europe. While TB incidences have dropped significantly in other western European countries, in London rates have increased slightly,” this editorial from “The Observer” states, adding, “This is in part because of high immigration but also, according to the WHO’s Dr. Mario Raviglione, it is a result of the reluctance of the British government to comply with international standards and recommendations on notifications and the need for greater cooperation between departments, particularly the Department of Health and the U.K. Border Agency. That needs to be rectified” (3/24).
  • Rear Admiral Susan Blumenthal and Yoonhee Ha, Huffington Post’s “Healthy Living”: “This year, the Stop TB Partnership, an international collaborative of governmental and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and others dedicated to fighting tuberculosis, has adopted ‘Stop TB in My Lifetime’ as its theme for World Tuberculosis Day. Yet … stopping tuberculosis in our lifetimes is a formidable challenge. A $1.7 billion dollar shortfall for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria over the next five years means that 3.4 million patients may go untreated,” Blumenthal, public health editor at the Huffington Post, and Ha, an M.D.-Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, write, adding, “Given the toll that TB takes on the world’s population, an effective vaccine, rapid diagnostic tests, shortened, effective treatment regimens, and more research on the illness are required. That’s why increased funding is urgently needed to develop 21st-century approaches” (3/24).
  • Kolleen Bouchane, Huffington Post’s “Impact”: World TB Day, “originally created in 1982 to celebrate the 100-year anniversary since German scientist Dr. Robert Koch presented his findings on the discovery of the tuberculosis bacilli and to raise awareness on TB, could be a celebration. Instead, the necessity to continue to mark this day and the current state of funding for TB is a story at the moment steeped in failure,” Bouchane, director of ACTION, writes, adding, “Late last year, in response to some lackluster pledges and the global recession, the Global Fund — the world’s biggest funder for TB — announced that it was suspending funding on new projects until 2014. Life-saving momentum that has built up in the fight against TB, AIDS and malaria is grossly at risk of being lost because of this shortfall in funding” (3/24).
  • David Greeley and Renuka Gadde, Huffington Post’s “Impact”: “Drug-resistant TB is thriving because we have failed to adequately detect and treat ordinary TB. This is, sadly, a problem of our own creation. … New drugs that can treat TB and drug-resistant TB more quickly, simply, and cost-effectively are urgently needed,” Greeley, senior vice president of external affairs at the TB Alliance, and Gadde, vice president of global health at BD, write, adding, “We need to keep collaborating to end TB. … We can defeat it. But it starts with political will to fund TB efforts, public and private sector scientific collaborations to produce the next generation of TB vaccines, diagnostics and treatments, and high-impact health partnerships to ensure access for all and amplify their impact to end the latest global health crisis” (3/24).
  • Salmaan Keshavjee, Huffington Post’s “Impact”: “130 years after it was first discovered and almost 60 years after the first antibiotics became available, one-third of the world’s population is infected with TB. Every four seconds someone becomes sick, every day 4,500 people die from this largely treatable disease because they do not have access to proper diagnosis, medicines and care,” Keshavjee, director of the infectious disease and social change program at Harvard Medical School, writes. He offers steps that could help fight the disease, including having the Global Fund “open the supply of quality-assured second-line TB drugs, and further work to ensure that the lowest prices are being paid as it does for malaria and HIV medicines,” and asking “the United States government to play a strong leadership role in ensuring that treatment of drug-resistant TB is a prominent part of its global health agenda” (3/24).
  • Jonathan Hale, USAID’s “IMPACTblog”: “Eastern Europe and Eurasia continue to have the highest rates of [multidrug-resistant (MDR-TB)] and [extensively drug-resistant (XDR-TB)] in the world. Of the 27 countries with a high burden of M/XDR-TB, 10 are in the Europe/Eurasia region. MDR-TB is a national security interest and a global health interest for the region and for the world,” Hale, USAID deputy assistant administrator for Europe and Eurasia, writes, adding, “USAID, working in collaboration with national TB programs and the Global Fund, has invested strategically and targeted areas where it can have the highest impact: strengthening surveillance systems, improving the quality of data collection and monitoring, strengthening laboratories, improving infection control, strengthening treatment services,  bolstering drug management practices, and improving policies and protocols” (3/23).
  • VOA: “The majority of TB deaths occur in the developing world, where the disease is closely linked to poverty, marginalized and vulnerable populations, substandard housing, and poor nutrition,” this VOA editorial states, continuing, “Within the next three years, the Stop TB Partnership seeks to cut TB’s prevalence and death rates by 50 percent from 1990 levels. By 2050, the Partnership aims to reduce TB’s global incidence to less than one case per million people. Through its Global Health Initiative, the United States seeks to harness the power of improved vaccines, scientific advances, and more accurate diagnosis at the site of care to achieve dramatic improvements in quality of life” (3/23).