Each year, we commemorate World Tuberculosis (TB) Day on March 24 to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB, and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic. The date marks the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease.
TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer. Each day, nearly 4500 people lose their lives to TB and close to 30,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease. Global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 54 million lives since the year 2000 and reduced the TB mortality rate by 42%. To accelerate the TB response in countries to reach targets – Heads of State came together and made strong commitments to end TB at the first-ever UN High Level Meeting in September 2018.
The theme of World TB Day 2019 - ‘It’s time’ – puts the accent on the urgency to act on the commitments made by global leaders to:
- Scale up access to prevention & treatment
- Promote equitable, rights-based & people-centered TB response
- Ensure sufficient & sustainable financing including for research
- Promote an end to stigma & discrimination
- Build accountability
The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a joint initiative “Find. Treat. All. #EndTB” with the Global Fund and Stop TB Partnership, with the aim of accelerating the TB response and ensuring access to care, in line with WHO’s overall drive towards Universal Health Coverage.
This World TB Day, WHO calls on governments, affected communities, civil society organizations, health-care providers, and national/international partners to unite forces under the banner “Find. Treat. All. #EndTB” to ensure no one is left behind.
In Belarus, over the past 10 years, the incidence of tuberculosis has decreased by more than 40%, and the death rate from this disease – by 60 %.
"At the same time, along with the improvement of the epidemiological situation in Belarus for this infectious disease, the high prevalence of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis remains a problem," - said B. Berdyklychev, WHO representative in Belarus. – The most severe form is extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, when the disease can not be treated with drugs of the first, second row. All this leads to a significant increase in the cost of treatment, longer periods of hospitalization and an unfavorable outcome.
At the same time, extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis requires treatment with new, expensive drugs. And today Belarus is a leader in their application.
The second positive aspect in the fight against tuberculosis, according to the WH) representative, is that Belarus has achieved universal access to rapid methods of diagnosis of tuberculosis (molecular genetic and bacteriological). Modern devices allow to get information about whether the patient is sick in one day, and if so, even find out what kind of tuberculosis: drug-sensitive or multi-resistant. This makes it possible to timely prescribe therapy to the patient and isolate him from society, which will ensure success in the fight against the disease.
And the third positive point: in the Brest region, a pilot project is being implemented to reduce the duration of treatment of inpatient tuberculosis patients and transfer them to outpatient treatment (without compromising the quality of medical care). Also, such patients are provided with social support (at the outpatient level). The cost of treatment in the hospital and polyclinic varies significantly, and the savings are planned to be directed to the purchase of medicines and medical equipment.
In total, 5 thousand people (registered) are suffering from tuberculosis in Belarus now. The danger is less than 4 thousand, all of them are under surveillance and, if necessary, sent to compulsory treatment. At the same time, if 5-6 years ago about 1,200 people were sent for compulsory treatment, last year this number was a little bit more than 200.
It’s time for action! It’s time to End TB.