Although curable, tuberculosis still kills some 1.7 million people each year in the developing world. On World Tuberculosis Day (March 24), some of international development’s key leaders shared their thoughts on how to combat the disease.
“USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) is strengthening country-level efforts to scale up and provide diagnostic and treatment services. But we need to expand the involvement of the private sector, integrate TB and HIV care, and encourage treatment of TB at the community level. We will contribute to the treatment of 2.6 million TB patients, 57,200 multi-drug resistant cases, and contribute to a 50 percent reduction in TB deaths and disease burden relative to the 1990 baseline.” - U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah said in a statement.
“In collaboration with existing TB programs and our partners throughout the world, the United States is uncovering new knowledge on prevention and treatment strategies; upgrading laboratory infrastructures; training the next generation of researchers and health care providers; and introducing new diagnostic and treatment tools … We must redouble our efforts toward stopping the spread of this disease, and recommit ourselves to tackling this 9,000 year old scourge that drains the life and saps the potential of so many.” - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement.
“[T]he (European) Commission will prepare a geographically comprehensive European programme for action to confront HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis through external action for 2012 and beyond. Better coordination will allow us to maximise the use of our resources and our aid will have much higher impact.” - European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs said in a statement.
“Efforts to carry out the [World Health Organization’s Stop TB Strategy] are severely under-funded, as is research to develop additional, badly needed tools. Without further improvements in tuberculosis prevention, early diagnosis and treatment, some 8 million people will die of tuberculosis between now and 2015.” - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement.
“The major problem is outdated tools. TB is preventable and treatable, but the most common TB test is more than 125 years old and misses half the cases. By the time most TB patients are correctly diagnosed and treated, they may have unknowingly infected many others – creating an endless cycle. At the same time, today’s TB drugs are more than 40 years old and take six months to work. The combination of poor tests and outdated treatments is driving the spread of drug resistance, undercutting global efforts to stop the epidemic.” - Bill Gates, cofounder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in a statement.
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