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The WHO urgently calls for measures to end tuberculosis
Tuberculosis is the deadliest infectious disease in the world. In 2017, ten million people contracted the bacterial infection and 1.6 million died as a result. A resistant form of tuberculosis is particularly threatening, affecting around 558,000 people. Even the most effective tuberculosis drugs could not help here. This emerges from a current report of the World Health Organization WHO.
Even if only a few people in Germany are currently suffering from tuberculosis, it is the most dangerous infectious disease in the world. The WHO recently published a tuberculosis report on the current state of the disease. Accordingly, there is no other infectious disease that claims more victims than tuberculosis. The WHO has now convened a meeting with high-ranking politicians from around the world to initiate more determined measures to combat the deadly disease.
WHO calls for international responsibility
At the first high-level meeting of the United Nations of this kind, the WHO wants to call for international responsibility in the fight against tuberculosis and to mobilize global politics to take more determined measures at national and international level. Almost 50 heads of state and government are expected to attend the meeting.
March against tuberculosis
"We have never seen such a high level of political awareness and understanding of what the world must do to end tuberculosis and its drug-resistant form," reports WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a press release on the tuberculosis report. This new impulse had to be used to end this terrible disease together.
First successes are not enough
Although the WHO report shows a decrease in the disease since 2000, many countries are still not doing enough to curb bacterial infection. "Tuberculosis is still the deadliest infectious disease in the world," wrote the WHO. To achieve the global goal of eliminating tuberculosis by 2030, many countries need to step up their response to the disease.
The current situation
According to the WHO report, a total of ten million people contracted tuberculosis in 2017, and 1.6 million died. Around 300,000 of the deaths were HIV positive. Since 2000, the death toll has dropped by 29 percent. A 44 percent decline was recorded among HIV sufferers. On average, the worldwide number of new infections decreases by two percent annually. There was an annual decline of five percent in Europe and four percent in Africa.
Resistant tuberculosis germs pose a threat
The WHO was particularly concerned about the high number of resistant tuberculosis germs. According to WHO estimates, around 558,000 people contracted tuberculosis in 2017 that was at least immune to rifampicin. The antibiotic rifampicin is currently considered the most effective remedy for tuberculosis. In other forms, multi-resistance has even been demonstrated. Other medications such as isoniazid could not help here either.
Large gaps in reporting and diagnosis
A major problem that the WHO report draws attention to is the inadequate reporting and diagnosis of tuberculosis cases. Over a third of the cases are not recognized or reported. In India, Indonesia and Nigeria in particular, there is a lot of catching up to do. The reporting and diagnosis gap is even greater in children. According to the WHO, less than half of the children suffering from tuberculosis are reported. The WHO estimates global treatment coverage at around 64 percent.
As always, there is a lack of money
"One of the most pressing challenges is to increase funding," said the WHO experts. In 2018, spending on tuberculosis prevention and care investments was cut by $ 3.5 billion, particularly in low and middle income countries. The WHO warns that if the investment is not raised by around $ 6.1 billion by 2022, the goals set will not be met. In addition, an additional $ 1.3 billion a year is needed to accelerate the development of new vaccines and medicines.
Millions of people die from an avoidable disease
"It is unacceptable that millions of people lose their lives and many more suffer from this preventable and curable disease every day," warns Dr. Tereza Kasaeva, director of the WHO global tuberculosis program. You have to join forces to eradicate this disease. Now is the time to act.
Will there be action after the words?
"We need to make sure that this report and the commitments we get from the heads of state next week are translated into action," emphasizes Dr. Eric Goosby, UN special envoy for tuberculosis. It must be ensured that global executives keep their promises and that if in doubt they can be held accountable. The meeting is scheduled for September 26, 2018. (vb)