Message of the Regional Director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, on the occasion of World Tuberculosis Day, 24 March 2017
Today, 24 March 2017, the World Health Organization joins the rest of the international community to commemorate World Tuberculosis Day. The theme for this year remains the same as last year: “Unite to End TB”, but with a special focus on “Leaving no one behind” in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
The WHO Africa region is heavily burdened by the tuberculosis epidemic. Every 4th new case of TB is from Africa, which has 16 of the top 30 countries with the highest TB burden. Every third case of HIV-associated tuberculosis is from the WHO Africa Region.
In 2014, countries in the African Region agreed to reduce TB deaths by 75% and new TB cases by 50% by 2025. To attain these new targets, countries and partners need to intensify efforts to reach, treat and cure everyone with TB. In particular, the poorest and most vulnerable people who are disproportionately affected by TB need special attention, along with underserved areas which lack access to basic health services.”
Dr. Moeti also outlined risk factors that affect TB vulnerability as well access to treatment and care, among them alcohol use and tobacco.
These include migrants, refugees, ethnic minorities, miners and others working and living in risk-prone settings, the elderly, marginalized women and children in many settings. Factors such as malnutrition, poor housing and sanitation, and other risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use and diabetes, affect vulnerability to TB and access to care.
As we commemorate World TB Day, I call on Governments and other stakeholders to “Unite to End TB” by working closely together to address the scourge of this disease ensuring no one is left behind. This requires more investments in health care, and especially, making sure that no families are impoverished by the cost of treatment and care of infectious conditions like TB. WHO will continue to support countries to strengthen health systems to make this a reality.”