Dr. Tereza Kasaeva, Director of the Global Tuberculosis Programme at the World Health Organization (WHO), has stated that the fight against tuberculosis (TB) still lacks political will.
Speaking on World TB Day, Kasaeva emphasized that 2023 is a pivotal year for ending TB as there are several high-level opportunities to increase political commitment and investment in the TB response.
1.6 million people died of TB in 2021, with at least 400,000 dying every day worldwide. According to Kasaeva, She has called for more focus on vulnerable communities, with heads of state expected to present their plans and strategies to end TB at a United Nations meeting later this year.
The WHO is urging action on several fronts to ensure commitments made to end TB are achieved. First, it is calling for high-level leadership and advocacy, and for heads of state to deliberate on accelerating efforts to end TB.
South Africa, which has been particularly hard hit by the disease, celebrated a 73% recovery rate for patients infected with TB on World TB Day. Its success has been achieved through collaborative efforts with communities, with early diagnoses monitored and patients ensured of completing their treatment.
The Western Cape health department has raised awareness of TB and its harm to society through a multi-sector response plan with partners. It is also working on rapid testing and diagnoses to ensure clients can get early initiation of treatment.