Today is World TB Day
West at WAR, but not for health or against disease
Editing, re-reporting by Carolyn Bennett
More than two billion people carry tuberculosis-causing germs. TB is contagious. It spreads through the air and, if not treated, each person with active TB can infect an average of 10 to 15 people a year.
World TB Day marks Dr. Robert Koch’s 1882 discovery of the TB bacillus (disease-producing bacterium) that causes tuberculosis. More than a hundred years after Koch’s discovery, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) finds one-third of the world’s peoples infected with a disease that should have been stamped out at least a hundred years ago.
As the United States, France, and Britain wage endless wars on Africa and Asia (countries leading in this disease), the world languishes in a pandemic. Among the 15 countries World Health found to have the highest estimated TB incidence rates, 13 are in Africa. A third of all new cases are in India and China.
Sixty-nine (69) countries report at least one case of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis. Reporting at least one case of Extensively Drug-Resistant TB (XDR-TB) by the end of 2010 are these countries:
Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Bhutan, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Rep, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Islamic Rep of Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Rep of Korea, Rep of Moldova, Romania, Russian Fed, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Ukraine, UAE, UK, USA, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam.
Drug-resistant TB is widespread and found in all countries surveyed by the World Health Organization (WHO). MDR-TB emerges as a result of treatment mismanagement. It is passed from person to person in the same way as drug-sensitive TB. Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) is a form of TB that does not respond to standard treatments using first-line drugs.
Bacteria resistant to the most effective anti-TB drugs (isoniazid and rifampicin) cause Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). MDR-TB results from either primary infection or may develop in the course of a patient’s treatment. MDR-TB is present in virtually all countries surveyed by WHO and its partners
There were an estimated 440,000 new MDR-TB cases in 2008 with three countries accounting for over 50 percent of all cases globally: China, India and the Russian Federation.
Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) occurs when resistance to second-line drugs develops. It is extremely difficult to treat. Cases have been confirmed in more than 58 countries. Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) is a form of TB caused by bacteria that are resistant to isoniazid and rifampicin (i.e. MDR-TB) as well as any fluoroquinolone and any of the second-line anti-TB injectable drugs (amikacin, kanamycin or capreomycin).
World Health’s additional World TB Day facts
• 1.7 million died from TB in 2009 (including 380,000 people with HIV) — equal to about 4,700 deaths a day
• TB is a disease of poverty. It affects mostly young adults in their most productive years.
• The developing world sustains the vast majority of TB deaths. More than half occur in Asia.
• Among people living with HIV, their immune systems weakened, TB is a leading killer
• 9.4 million New TB cases occurred in 2009 — 80 percent of these were in just 22 countries.
• The global TB incidence rate per capita is falling but the rate of decline is very slow — less than 1 percent.
TUBERCULOSIS IS A WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC. World TB Day draws attention to tuberculosis and efforts to eliminate this global epidemic.
Sources and notes
“WHO progress report 2011 —towards universal access to diagnosis and treatment of multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis ( XDR-TB) by 2015,” http://www.who.int/tb/en/index.html
“Progress is being made but the response is far from sufficient given the MDR-TB threat facing the world. Two years from the Beijing declaration — endorsed by all 27 high-burden countries featured in the report — some countries’ commitments are “too slow off the mark or simply stalled.”
“41 million TB patients have been successfully treated in DOTS programs and up to 6 million lives saved since 1995. Five million more lives could be saved between now and 2015 by fully funding and implementing The Global Plan to Stop TB 2011-2015…”
The World Health Organization (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.
“In the 21st century, health is a shared responsibility, involving equitable access to essential care and collective defense against transnational threats,” http://www.who.int/about/en/
“World TB Day 2011: Spotlight on diagnosis and treatment,” March 24, 2011,
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