WHO: Together we can beat TB
MANILA, Philippines–The World Health Organization (WHO) in the Western Pacific region has called for new action and commitment in the global fight against tuberculosis (TB), as millions of people still get infected with what is known as the poor man’s disease.
WHO issued the statement ahead of World TB Day on March 24, saying it was an opportunity for communities, governments, civil society groups and international partners to put the goals of eliminating TB at the top of their agenda.
“We must focus on maintaining approaches that have worked well while incorporating new methods and technology to address evolving challenges,” said Dr. Shin Young-soo, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific.
The WHO said that while the fight to reverse the spread of TB was gaining momentum, the number of people still affected by it remained high.
In 2013, 9 million people contracted TB and 1.5 million died from the disease.
“Let us reinvigorate our efforts to reach, treat and cure all patients suffering from TB, including drug-resistant forms. We need the concerted efforts of all sectors, not just health workers, to find and fight this disease wherever it hides,” Shin said.
One of the world’s leading infectious killers, TB is caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria that most often affect the lungs.
The disease is spread when a person with an active TB infection in their lungs coughs or sneezes and someone else inhales the expelled droplets, which contain TB bacteria.
While tuberculosis mostly affects young adults in their most productive years, all age groups are at risk.
The WHO has stressed that TB is curable and preventable. In fact, an estimated 37 million lives were saved through TB diagnosis and treatment between 2000 and 2013.
It reported that in the Western Pacific region which covers 37 countries, including the Philippines, substantial progress has been made in reaching Millennium Development Goals relating to TB well in advance of the 2015 deadline.
Although the region’s population is increasing, TB cases continue to decline each year—from 2.1 million cases in 2000 to 1.6 million cases in 2013.
Since 2000, TB treatment has saved 9 million lives in the region, which includes both TB patients and those who would have contracted TB from them had they not been treated.
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