World Tuberculosis Day – March 24th

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World Tuberculosis (TB) Day. A day designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries.

By Allianz Worldwide Care | 20 March, 2017

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The theme of this years World TB day is ‘Unite to end TB’, the day commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus. At the time of Koch's announcement in Berlin, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Koch's discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are about nine million new cases of TB globally each year, approximately 1.5 million people died from the disease.

What is TB?

TB is an infectious bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which most commonly affects the lungs. It is transmitted from person to person via droplets from the throat and lungs of people with the active respiratory disease.

In healthy people, infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis often causes no symptoms, since the person's immune system acts to “wall off” the bacteria. The symptoms of active TB of the lung are coughing, sometimes with sputum or blood, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. Tuberculosis is treatable with a six-month course of antibiotics.

TB and HIV

TB remains the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, accounting for one in three AIDS-related deaths every year – around 390 000 of 1.2 million AIDS-related deaths in 2014.

In addition, around 480 000 people in 2014 developed multidrug-resistant TB. As with HIV, poorer communities and populations affected by stigma and discrimination are most vulnerable to infection.

Adopted in 2014, the World Health Organization’s END TB Strategy recognises that ending the TB epidemic hinges on better policy-making at an international, regional and national level as well as stronger action to increase social protection, reduce poverty and tackle other determinants that increase people’s vulnerability to infection.

The strengthening of health-care capacities will also be an important factor in reaching the goals of reducing TB deaths by 95% and new cases of TB by 90% by 2035.

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