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Tuberculosis: Fight against an old killer

Tuberculosis: Fight against an old killer

Tuberculosis: Fight against an old killer

1.7 million people died of tuberculosis in 2016. At a conference, dozens of countries have committed to do more against the infectious disease.

75 states have called for an intensified fight against tuberculosis. All countries are committed to increasing their commitment to eradicate the disease, said a joint statement by health ministers at a World Health Organization (WHO) conference in Moscow on Friday. Tuberculosis is one of the biggest threats in the world for people of working age.

The conference participants were in favor of joint action until 2030.

1.7 million dead

“This is a long overdue commitment to stop the death and suffering that this old killer triggers,” said WHO boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. So far, the main problems have been lack of political will and lack of investment in the fight against the disease. “Today’s statement must go hand in hand with increased investment,” the WHO Director said.

Tuberculosis is the most serious bacterial infectious disease in the world, with 1.7 million deaths in 2016 alone. This makes the disease one of the ten leading causes of death worldwide. According to WHO estimates, the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis infected 10.4 million people last year.

Experts refer to the infection as a disease of poverty, because it is mainly distributed in structurally weak regions in Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Two-thirds of new infections were recorded in India, Indonesia, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, South Africa and the Philippines.

Although tuberculosis is curable with antibiotics, it can be fatal without treatment. And even if the infection can be successfully controlled, doctors often have to resort to remedies with serious side effects, such as those that can lead to hearing loss .

Doctors Without Borders sees Germany as its duty

In the fight against the disease, the WHO has set ambitious goals: The number of deaths is to be reduced by 90 percent and the number of new infections by 20 percent by 2030 compared to 2015.

In the joint statement, Health Ministers agreed to move forward in the following areas:

Strengthen health systems so that people have easier access to the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis.
Achieve sufficient and sustainable funding that bridges existing research gaps and implements new insights.
Promotion of research and development of new diagnostic, preventive and healing methods.
To create a framework in which the progress is documented and monitored.
The organization Doctors Without Borders also sees Germany as its duty. “Even a new federal government must take the commitment against the deadliest infectious disease in the world seriously and anchor it in the coalition agreement,” said Marco Alves of Doctors Without Borders. Germany needed to secure money and technical expertise for prevention and treatment in affected countries.

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