On 24th March, we marked the World TB Day. The theme for this year was, IT’S TIME. It’s indeed time to end TB. One missing person can infect up to 15 people with Tuberculosis (TB) every day.
Globally, over 4 million persons with TB were missed in 2016. Patients are considered “missing” when they have not been diagnosed, haven’t been notified of their status or if they default on treatment.
Despite vast efforts to educate the public on the risk factors associated with TB, large numbers of people diagnosed with the disease still do not get treatment for reasons such as stigma attached to the disease, or because they think that they have been cured after taking medication for less than the prescribed six-month period. Diagnostic delays is also a factor contributing to missing persons. Health system failures, such as poor recording of patients’ contact details, poor follow-up of patients who do not return to collect their test results, results not being available when patients return to the health facility and perceptions of poor quality of services (long waiting times, disrespectful staff) need to be addressed.
With the global TB incidence declining at only 1.5% per year, we are not on track for an 80% reduction in TB incidence by 2030. There is an urgent need for Governments to commit more resources for health to defeat the disease. We ask Governments to commit at least 5% of their GDP to health so that broadly, they build resilient and responsive health systems that provides comprehensive primary health care based on the principle of leaving no one behind.
In October this year, France will host the 6th Global Fund replenishment conference to raise at least US$14 billion to end HIV, TB and malaria. Investments in the Global Fund have saved more than 27 million lives since 2002. A fully funded replenishment will enable the Global Fund to scale up its effective responses and get the world back on track to fight the three diseases and save lives. Resources from the Global Fund and domestic resources from Governments when put together, will support the building of strong health systems.