The discovery of the Koch bacilla is remembered on March 24. Every year, this bacilla causes 10 million new cases of tuberculosis (TB) to arise globally, of which one million affect children and 400,000 are due to often fatal antibiotic resistant strains. Each year 1.7 million people die of TB. Its economic impact is important and no country is immune. Even Canada has about 1,200 cases per year.
That’s why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should attend the high level meeting on tuberculosis at the United Nations next September.
As demonstrated by the sudden explosion of TB cases in Venezuela, TB is kindled by malnutrition and crowded unsanitary housing. Ending TB by 2030, or even by 2025 in India, if Prime Minister Modi is to be successful, will require a global, vigorous and holistic approach to prevent, find and treat TB.
Preventing TB requires vaccinating children in high burden countries with the BCG vaccine, developing a vaccine for adults and ensuring adequate nutrition and adequate housing.
Finding TB requires making the new molecular identification techniques available at a reasonable cost.
Treating TB requires using the existing adequate antibiotics as soon as possible and developing new antibiotics that cure faster and with less toxic side-effects.
By uniting to end TB, the countries of the world might discover there is a lot to gain from co-operation when facing common challenges.