TB, often thought to be a disease of the past, is currently one of the world’s biggest health crises.
TB is a highly infectious and deadly disease that is easily spread. Children, especially, are often misdiagnosed. Close to 95% of people with TB live in lower income countries, with the largest numbers living in Asia and Africa. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) best estimate is that 10 million people developed TB in 2017 of whom 1 million were children. In the same year WHO estimated there were 1.3 million deaths caused by TB. In addition, it has been determined that about 1.7 billion people, 23% of the world’s population, have latent TB infection and are therefore at risk of developing active TB disease during their lifetime.
On September 26, 2018 the United Nations, in support of its “WHO Stop TB Initiative”, convened a High Level Meeting on TB inviting Heads of States to find the means to end the TB epidemic by 2030. GRAN actively encouraged Prime Minister Trudeau to attend this meeting. Canada was instead well represented by Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services. Senior Public Health officials, including Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Medical Health Officer, also attended. While this High Level Meeting increased awareness of the global TB epidemic, global progress is slow, and clear actions still need to be better defined and acted upon – particularly with regard to developing new tools for improving TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
Less than a year ago , the World Health Organization recommended the use of bedaquiline as a core drug for the treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), but affordability has been an obstacle to its use. In October 2019, MSF (Doctors Without Borders) launched a campaign asking Johnson & Johnson, manufacturers of bedaquiline, to lower the price of the drug to a dollar a day to make it affordable to those who need it. For more on MSF's bedaquiline campaign, click here.
To learn more about the fight to end TB, here are some helpful resources and websites: