Editorials and Commentary
Scale Up the Global Fight Against Tuberculosis
March 28, 2003
"Ten years ago the World Health Organization declared a global emergency to battle the resurgent epidemic of tuberculosis. The international community is making steady headway in coping with the crisis, but 'steady' is too slow. Two million people die from tuberculosis every year....Adapted from:
"The epidemic is still growing in Africa and countries of the former Soviet Union....It is a close companion of AIDS as it takes advantage of the weakened immune systems of those who are infected with the AIDS virus. The emergence of drug-resistant strains has revived the centuries-old reputation of tuberculosis as the 'Captain of Death.' Yet there is an effective weapon against this killer. The directly observed treatment short- course, known as DOTS, ensures that people... are fully treated with a powerful combination of drugs under the regular supervision of health workers or community volunteers.
"The treatment costs $10 or less for six months of drugs and uses primary care services. Over the past few years, DOTS has turned the tuberculosis tide in several countries and more will follow suit.
"Since 1993, 10 million tuberculosis patients have been treated successfully worldwide, more than 90 percent of them in developing countries....
"But only a third of all people with tuberculosis are being treated under DOTS programs.... DOTS must become part of the treatment package for the millions of people infected with both the AIDS virus and tuberculosis....
"The countries with the highest tuberculosis burdens, together with the Group of Eight governments, the [WHO], the World Bank, nongovernmental organizations, foundations, universities and committed individuals... are supporting the Global Plan to Stop Tuberculosis and are committed to the Stop Tuberculosis Partnership. The new Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a major new contributor to this work....
"Through these partners, hundreds of millions more dollars are now available for DOTS expansion, innovative responses to AIDS-associated tuberculosis and drug-resistant tuberculosis, and research and development for new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines. Even so, this is still well under $1 billion more that is needed annually to change the trajectory of tuberculosis control.
"As Group of Eight leaders prepare to meet in France in June, they should unite in scaling up the fight against tuberculosis and other major diseases. Millions of lives hang in the balance."
Gro Harlem Brundtland is director-general of the World Health Organization. James D. Wolfensohn is president of the World Bank.
International Herald Tribune
03.25.03; Gro Harlem Brundtland; James D. Wolfensohn
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.