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Ending Tuberculosis – What Needs to be Done?

There are many successful humanitarian projects in the field of global health, like the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis. Numerous progress has been made in dealing with the disease, but challenges are still present in the fight towards total elimination of this disease. Tuberculosis is one of the top ten causes of death worldwide.

Ending Tuberculosis, a disease affecting millions of vulnerable people

Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that infects the lungs. It is curable and preventable, yet nearly two million die of the disease every year. The disease is spread from person to person through the air. When infected people cough, sneeze or spit, they bring germs into the air. Only a few of these germs are enough for another person to become infected.

In 2015, 10.4 million people fell ill with the disease and 1.8 million died, including almost half a million people with HIV. Six countries account for 60 percent of the total of deaths, with India leading the count, followed by Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and finally South Africa. Over 95% of deaths occur in vulnerable countries of low and middle income.

Ending the tuberculosis epidemic is a target under the Sustainable Development Goals. This century, a lot of progress has been made. Between 2000 and 2001, 49 million lives were saved and the number of deaths because of the disease fell by 22 percent. Curing the epidemic requires implementing a mix of biomedical, public health target and socioeconomic interventions along with research and innovation.

The End TB Strategy consists of a series of interventions that fall under three pillars. The first pillar (integrated, patient-centered care and prevention) puts patients at the heart of service delivery. The second pillar calls for intense participation across government, communities and private stakeholders.

The final pillar highlights intensified research and innovation, which is critical to break the trajectory of tuberculosis and reach the global targets. In 2030 the UN aims to have a drop of 80 percent of new cases. Another goal is to reduce the amount of tuberculosis related death by 90 percent.

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