By Claire Vernon, PhD
World Tuberculosis (TB) Day is celebrated each year on March 24. Although it is a curable disease, TB was the world’s number one infectious killer in 2015 and one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. It persists in communities that are marginalized, affected by poverty, or have reduced access to care. In line with several of the Sustainable Development Goals, the WHO’s “Unite to End TB” campaign has the added focus this year of “Leave No One Behind.”
Bringing care to those who are marginalized and ensuring continuous care is particularly important in the fight to end TB. Around 1/3 of the world’s population has latent TB, which becomes contagious when the infection becomes active. Approximately 10% of people with latent TB will fall ill, and this risk is higher for people with compromised immune systems, malnutrition, or who use tobacco. Without treatment, around 45% of people die from TB; almost every HIV-positive person with active TB will die from the illness. Moreover, nearly a half a million people were estimated to have developed multi-drug resistant TB in 2015. Successful TB treatment usually includes 4 antibiotics taken for 6 months, and improper use or prescription of these medications or prematurely stopping the treatment regimen increases the likelihood for developing drug-resistance.
 WHO Global Health Days. Website. http://www.who.int/campaigns/tb-day/2017/event/en/ Accessed March 22, 2017.
 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Website. http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/ Accessed March 22, 2017.
 WHO Tuberculosis Fact Sheet. Website. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs104/en/ Accessed March 22, 2017.
 WHO 2016 Global Tuberculosis Report. Website. http://www.who.int/tb/publications/global_report/en/ Accesed March 22, 2017.
Cover Photo obtained via WHO http://www.who.int/campaigns/tb-day/2017/poster6.jpg?ua=1