Clear Threats and Clear Opportunities on Tuberculosis
On World TB Day, new drug resistance data and an ambitious new campaign in South Africa
Washington, DC, March 24, 2015 — This World Tuberculosis Day, South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi launched an unprecedented national campaign against tuberculosis, a leading killer globally and in South Africa.
South Africa’s five-year campaign aims to provide at least 90% of vulnerable populations with TB screening, ensure at least 90% of all people with TB are diagnosed and started on treatment, and achieve at least 90% treatment success. The campaign specifically targets at-risk populations, including mining communities and people in prisons. It is the most ambitious campaign of its kind in recent years.
Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global TB launched new projections indicating that drug-resistant tuberculosis could account for one in four deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections by 2050. If left unchecked, this means drug-resistant TB could claim up to 75 million lives and cost the world economy $16.7 trillion by 2050.
Joanne Carter, Vice-Chair of the Stop TB Partnership Coordinating Board and Executive Director of RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund, released the following statement in response to today’s announcements:
Stepping up with their bold vision of reaching 90% of people at risk for TB, South Africa’s Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa have reminded all of us that we can and we must do more on TB.
TB has long gone hand-in-hand with poverty, both disproportionately affecting the poor and driving those sick with TB deeper into poverty. The ambitious announcement today by South Africa reminds us that the status quo is unacceptable: we must do everything in our power to reach, treat, and cure everyone, regardless of where they live or who they are.
The new projections about drug-resistant TB released today make clear just how important this work is, now more than ever. The world has acknowledged the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, and today’s projections on MDR-TB demonstrate that it isn’t just new superbugs that threaten us — it’s the old foe, TB, in dangerous new forms. The world has made real progress in recent years on TB, but we still lack the investment, political ambition, and scientific tools to defeat this epidemic.
In the United States, unfortunately, the President’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2016 includes cuts to critical bilateral TB programming. In recent years, Congress has rejected similar proposed cuts. It will be up to lawmakers this spring to provide ambitious funding for TB, both through bilateral investments and also through maintaining Fiscal Year 2015 level funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which provides nearly 90% of external financing for TB. Increased investment in TB research and development will also be critical to provide us the new tools to ultimately defeat TB.
Reminded of the threat and inspired by the opportunity, it’s time for other world leaders to match the ambition shown in South Africa today.
About RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund:
RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund are sister organizations that, together, are a leading force in ending poverty in the United States and around the world. We create long-term solutions to poverty by supporting programs that address its root causes — lack of access to health, education, or opportunity to move up the economic ladder. We do this by empowering ordinary people to become extraordinary voices for the end of poverty in their communities, the media, and the halls of government. The collective voices of these passionate grassroots activists, coordinated with grass-tops efforts driven by our staff, leverage millions of dollars for programs and improved policies that give low-income people the tools they need to move out of poverty.