The General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) had decided to, once and for all, eliminate tuberculosis from all parts of the world.
This is a response of a "global epidemic" that has claimed the lives of 1.6 million people worldwide in 2017. Tuberculosis or TB is considered to be the deadliest infectious disease on Earth.
On Wednesday, Sept. 26, the General Assembly held its first-ever meeting to talk about the fight against TB. The meeting has the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Stop TB Partnership.
The Tuberculosis Problem
A cure for TB has been available for decades. However, new cases continue to be reported from around the world. In 2017, 10 million people fell ill with TB — 3.6 million of which were either undiagnosed or not reported.
TB is also common to people who are positive with HIV. About 300,000 people who were diagnosed with HIV also have TB last year, according to the data from WHO.
The infectious disease is considered to be a serious threat to people living with HIV. Because their immune systems are compromised, people with untreated latent TB infection can quickly progress to TB disease. TB and HIV can work together to significantly reduce a person's lifespan.
"Enough is enough," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the first WHO director-general from Africa. "It's time to end TB."
The goal of the UN is to reduce the death toll related to TB around the world by 90 percent by 2030.
The Fight To End Tuberculosis
However, the effort will be met by challenges that will be difficult to overcome. TB is most common among the poor communities with no proper access to medication.
To fast-track the elimination of TB, world leaders agreed to treat about 40 million people in the next five years. They also promised to provide preventive measures for people who are at high risk of getting TB.
Sharonann Lynch, the HIV and TB advisor for Doctors Without Borders, said that the effort came exactly at the right time. She explained that there are now more efficient diagnostic tools and medicines that can significantly reduce the number of people with tuberculosis.
However, she is disappointed that not all world leaders were present at the meeting. Out of 193 member states of the UN, only 30 attended.
"They have to take advantage of this momentum and truly commit to significantly increasing investments and mobilizing the research community to develop new medical tools to more effectively tackle the world's deadliest infectious disease," she stated in a press release," for the ten million people who develop TB each year still desperately waiting for a fast, safe, and simple cure."