March 24th is World Tuberculosis Day. Frequently surrounded by a halo of romanticism and poetry, this disease is a far cry from inoffensive. Research for its eradication has been underway for decades.
On March 24, 1882, Doctor Robert Koch announced the discovery of the bacteria that causes tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. At that time, this disease caused one out of every seven deaths in the mid-19th Century. This discovery represented the most important step to date toward the cure and eradication of this disease.
100 years later, in 1982, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease sponsored the first World Tuberculosis Day. The purpose of this event was to educate the public about the negative consequences of this disease in terms of the economy and human health, specifically how it affects developing countries and its impact on global health. Tuberculosis primarily affects adults during the most productive years of their life, although this does not mean that other age groups are not at risk. Over 95 percent of cases are found in developing countries. In 2016, Asia had the most new cases, with 45 percent, following by Africa with 25 percent. The WHO’s strategy entails three main pillars that should be put into practice in order to end the epidemic:
- 1. Integrated, patient-centered care and prevention;
- 2. Bold policies and supportive systems;
- 3. Intensified research and innovation.
Put yourself to the test
It’s time to act. It’s time to end TB.
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