Brazzaville, 24 March 2014 – Countries in the African Region have been urged to scale up action to address tuberculosis (TB), an infectious disease which killed more than half a million people in the Region in 2013.
The call was made by WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Luis Sambo, in a message to mark World TB Day (WTBD), observed across the globe on 24 March.
Every year since 1997, WTBD has been commemorated on 24 March, the day in 1882 when Robert Kock discovered mycobacterium tuberculosis, the germ that causes TB.
The theme for WTBD 2014 is “Reach the three million; Find, Treat, Cure TB”.
In his message released in Brazzaville on Monday, Dr Sambo acknowledged that the rising trend of TB cases in the Region had been halted, and that the numbers of cases were continuing to decline. He added, however, that there was no room for complacency.
The Regional Director said that a third of the nine million people in the world who get sick with the disease every year were “missed” as they did not have access to treatment services. The majority of these people live in the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities, including in the African Region.
“To reach the ‘missing’ patients and move towards eliminating TB, we will need to scale up TB interventions such as DOTS and TB/HIV collaborative activities especially for the most vulnerable groups”, Dr Sambo said.
He also called for an intensification of the fight against HIV which, he said, was an important contributor to the TB epidemic.
“No one should be left behind in the fight against this scourge” he said.
Message of the Regional Director on the Occasion of World Tuberculosis Day 2014
Source: WHO African Region