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The Latest in the Fight against TB
Recent media on an age-old killer
The global epidemic: Even bigger than we thought
“1.5 million died last year from this curable disease,” read CNN’s headline last month. It’s not Ebola, but tuberculosis (TB). The World Health Organization released its latest analysis of the TB epidemic in October, showing that almost half a million more people have the disease than we previously knew.
Writes PBS FRONTLINE:
The WHO’s Global Tuberculosis Report 2014 underscored that the highly contagious disease remains the second biggest infectious disease killer, infecting an estimated nine million people last year and killing 1.5 million. The new numbers revealed “what many of us had feared, that the TB epidemic is even bigger than we thought,” said Dr. Joanne Carter, vice-chair of the STOP TB Partnership Coordinating Board.
Meanwhile, the world is failing to provide the necessary resources to combat TB, with global investment nearly $2 billion short of the $8 billion that’s required. The consequences are particularly dire for the drug-resistant TB epidemic: each day hundreds of people (more than 39,000 last year alone) with diagnosed drug-resistant TB are put on waiting lists and sent home untreated.
TB in the United States
Earlier this fall, an undiagnosed Texas hospital worker with active TB potentially exposed more than 800 infants to the disease – the latest example of the more than 10,000 cases in the United States annually. In the Houston Chronicle, Texas public health leader Charles Wallace writes:
Dealing with drug-resistant tuberculosis in the U.S. costs a total of $14.2 million a year. The global picture is even worse. So why isn’t there a one-week course of medication to prevent or cure TB? A cheap and fast test? Why isn’t there a reliable vaccine? The answer is simple: we have not dedicated the funding to develop them.
Global legislators united to end TB
At the end of October, political representatives spanning 5 continents gathered for a first-of-its-kind global summit to formalize their shared commitment to tackling this epidemic. Now joined together by the “Barcelona Declaration,” they’re united in the fight against TB, “recognizing that every man, woman and child should be able to live their lives free from the tyranny of disease.” Learn more in an ACTION statement.
TB and Diabetes
For years, the deadly co-epidemic of TB and HIV has claimed millions of lives, and a new report released last month warns of another looming co-epidemic: TB and Diabetes. As NPR writes, “the world is facing a double-barreled pandemic reminiscent of the dual epidemic of tuberculosis and HIV that emerged in the 1980s – only potentially much bigger.” With the growing threat of diabetes and TB, there’s one more reason why the world cannot afford to wait any longer to find the resources to tackle this age-old epidemic.