Unite to end TB

first_imgWorld TB Day, falling on March 24 each year, is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries. It commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus. At the time of Koch’s announcement in Berlin, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Koch’s discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB.The occasion is used as an opportunity to raise awareness about the burden of TB worldwide and the status of TB prevention and care efforts. It is also an opportunity to mobilise political and social commitment for further progress in efforts to end TB.This year’s theme is “Unite to End TB: Leave no one behind”, and 2017 is the second year of a two-year “Unite to End TB” campaign for World TB Day. This year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) will place a special focus on uniting efforts to “Leave No One Behind”, including actions to address stigma, discrimination, marginalisation and overcome barriers to access care.The Sustainable Development Agenda embraces the principle of ensuring no one is left behind in an effort to transform the world and improve people’s lives for the better. Addressing the health needs of the disadvantaged, the marginalised, and those out of the reach of the health system will mean improving access to health services for everyone. This is essential in order to reach the target of ending TB by 2030 as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the WHO End TB Strategy.Last year, the WHO reported that 10.4 million people fell ill with TB and there were 1.8 million TB deaths in 2015, making it the top infectious killer worldwide. This disease is deeply rooted in populations where human rights and dignity are limited. While anyone can contract TB, the disease thrives among people living in poverty, communities and groups that are marginalised, and other vulnerable populations.According to the Public Health Ministry, tuberculosis is identified as a priority health concern in Guyana, and through its DOTS programme, the Ministry has been able to expand TB services to the 10 Regions of Guyana.The increase of DOTS coverage reflects the strong commitment of the Public Health Ministry to lay the basis for a sound and sustainable fight against tuberculosis all over the country. In observance of the occasion, the Ministry in collaboration with PAHO will be hosting a multi-stakeholder meeting to launch the WHO END TB Strategy in Guyana.This is a forum for affected persons and communities, civil society organisations, health-care providers, collaborating partners and others to discuss and plan further interventions to fulfil the promise of reaching all people with quality TB prevention and care services, as well as enabling TB prevention through multi-sectoral development efforts. According to information released from the Ministry, over the past four years, the TB epidemic has shown some form of stability, while it has acknowledged that the fight against the disease in Guyana has been a long and difficult battle.TB control in Guyana still has some major challenges of which the most critical is the HIV epidemic within the population. This has been identified as one of the biggest concerns and the most important causes underlying the increase in both TB morbidity and mortality. Other challenges include the high prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and the access of isolated hinterland communities. The Public Health Ministry has partnered with key agencies over the years to expand TB services across the country, from one TB site in 2000 to 18 TB sites currently. In her message released on the occasion, subject Minister Volda Lawrence pointed to the fact that it was more important than ever to join forces against TB to successfully reach the goal of ending TB by 2030. It is also imperative for persons to get educated about the disease and to share that knowledge on how TB is transmitted, diagnosed and treated.last_img read more