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World needs coordinated response to new tuberculosis epidemic

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/26/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

TB remains world's most infectious killer.

The alarming uptick in tuberculosis, or TB cases worldwide demands a coordinated, global reaction lawmakers say. An ancient disease, TB remains mankind's greatest infectious killer. It's an airborne disease found in every country in the world, from the wealthiest to the least developed - that most alarmingly, has since become drug resistant.

Neglecting the disease places a heavy burden on domestic healthcare budgets. The human toll by TB, which translates into isolation, infirmity and death is also immense.

Neglecting the disease places a heavy burden on domestic healthcare budgets. The human toll by TB, which translates into isolation, infirmity and death is also immense.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
3/26/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Tuberculosis, human cost, worldwide response


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - TB was officially discovered and diagnosed in 1882. The disease continues to outrun our attempts to control it 132 years later. Annually, 1.3 million people die from the disease.  As Doctors without Frontiers puts it, in observing TB Day, 22,000 people will catch the disease.

To refresh memories that TB is not a disease of the past, lawmakers from the United Kingdom Nick Herbert, Andrew George and Virendra Sharma have begun the U.K. All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Tuberculosis. The group has joined with over 160 representatives from across the G7 nations and the European Parliament to call for coordinated global action.

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The group maintains that issues cross political divides and fewer still cross national boundaries to motivate decision makers around the world to join together with one voice and call for action.

The word, they say, needs to act fast. The World Health Organization released its annual Global TB Report last October, which showed that TB incidence rates are falling globally, but at two percent this progress is slow at best.

The decline also masks TB hotspots such as Eastern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, and the continued spread of drug-resistant TB, now defined as a "public health crisis".

Neglecting the disease places a heavy burden on domestic healthcare budgets. The human toll by TB, which translates into isolation, infirmity and death is also immense.

Nearly every country has cases of TB and drug-resistant TB, which can cost 10-15 times more to treat than the regular strain.

Even in developed nations, the world must remain mindful of New York City in the early 1990s, where an outbreak of drug-resistant TB was estimated to cost over $1 billion.

The WHO declared TB a "global health emergency" 21 years ago, yet the global fight against the disease is still facing an annual funding gap of $2 billion.

"We must all do more to push TB up the political agenda, and to demonstrate to our governments that investing in TB pays off," the group says. "Over the last two decades, over 20 million people have been cured of TB; we have built a promising pipeline of new TB drugs that have the potential to treat TB more quickly and effectively; and a TB vaccine could be less than a decade away."

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