Ahead of World Tuberculosis Day, a call to action

Afghanistan. TB is the world’s second biggest infectious killer of adults. Photo by: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Rylan K. Albright / International Security Assistance Force)

It’s high time to end the neglect of tuberculosis and push for more ambitious campaigns to stop the disease in this lifetime.

This is the sum of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for World Tuberculosis Day on March 24. It is a message echoed across the international community, including by donors such as the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Tuberculosis is the second-largest infectious killer of adults around the world, partly due to the lack of sufficient attention to the disease, Ban said in his message released March 15. This neglect causes “needless suffering” and deaths, particularly in the developing world, he said.

Millions of children around the world suffer as well from tuberculosis, a new report by campaign network Advocacy to Control TB Internationally says. The report says tuberculosis among children is a “hidden epidemic” because of “virtually no public or political attention” paid to the disease as a children’s health issue.

The report calls on governments and the scientific community to integrate tuberculosis diagnostics, treatment and care services with child health primary care, maternal and child health programs, and HIV services, among other measures to curb the spread of the disease among children.

Meanwhile, USAID has scheduled a conversation with experts and a forum with patients from around the globe on March 22. The agency also released its report on foreign aid spending on tuberculosis in fiscal 2010, when it provided $249 million for efforts to prevent and treat the disease.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.