Each year, 24 March is commemorated as World Tuberculosis (TB) Day; the Day is set aside to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB and to scale up collective global efforts to end the TB epidemic. According to the WHO 2018 Report, TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer with daily mortality and morbidity rates of nearly 4500 and 30000 respectively. WHO TB Reports from the year 2000 to 2018 highlight that global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 54 million lives and reduced the TB mortality rate by 42%. However, although the disease is preventable and curable, TB prevalence remains alarmingly high, with the heaviest burden being borne by low and middle income countries; with 9 SADC member states being listed as part of the 30 High TB burden countries (WHO 2018). Hence the need for strengthened collective global awareness-raising to prevent the disease.
This year, World TB Day is being commemorated under the theme, ‘It’s Time,’ reaffirming and amplifying global commitments made at the historic UN High-Level Meeting (UN HLM) on TB in September 2018 in New York. The theme draws attention to the urgency and need to scale up accountability, ensuring sufficient and sustainable financing including for research, promoting an end to stigma and discrimination, and promoting an equitable, rights-based and people-centred TB response. SAfAIDS joins the rest of the world in commemorating this day and raising awareness on the global scale and impact of TB. SAfAIDS remains highly committed to effectively address the TB burden in the SADC region, through scaling up of the TB in the Mining Sector (TIMS) programme being implemented in Eswatini to 4 other southern African countries, namely Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa. The programme aims to increase TB prevention education, case finding and treatment completion; HIV diagnosis and treatment initiation among TB-infected patients and accountability of key institutions addressing TB, silicosis and HIV by 2020.
SAfAIDS continues to build the capacity of women, men, girls and boys on TB and its linkages with other diseases and developmental health issues; including the consequential effect of TB on the health of people living with HIV. This year, we are reaffirming and pledging our commitment to improving the health and lives of citizens of the SADC region on this Day and throughout the year.
As we commemorate the Day, let us also celebrate communities and individuals who have remained committed to TB prevention education and promotion of testing and treatment of TB. Additionally, we celebrate key milestones that have been made in fields of research, testing and treatment, leading to a significant decrease in morbidity and mortality.
It’s Time for Collective Action, It’s Time to End TB in the SADC Region and Beyond!
Knowledge for action: The power to make a difference!