The theme for this year’s World Tuberculosis (TB) day (24th March 2023) is encouraging empowerment.
The 'Yes! We can end TB!', theme by the World Health Organization (WHO) is centred around raising awareness of TB and matching global efforts to commitments being made to combat the disease.
The #ENDTB initiative aims to provide the awareness, insight and information needed to urge health policymakers to pledge to tackle the disease, as well as inspiring multisectoral collaboration and innovation to combat TB as a major global public health issue.
According to figures from the campaign in 2021 10.6 million people fell ill with TB and 1.6 million people died from the disease. There has been a slight increased in the number of Multi-drug resistant (MDR) cases worldwide with marked increased in case numbers in the Latin American region, as well as Central Asia and East Asia.
Calls for action- collaborative working with all stakeholders
The WHO has simplified the actions needed by all stakeholders working to combat TB.
To successfully eradicate TB greater collaboration is required between politicians and policymakers, healthcare professionals and researchers, and the general public, particularly community engagement with young people.
Actions for Policymakers
The current campaign aims to encourage Ministries of Health and other public health leaders to prioritise TB services, predominantly around access to diagnosis and prevention schemes. The WHO also asks policymakers to pledge to support and empower health workers to deliver these high-quality TB services.
Actions for health service providers
The WHO also highlights the lack TB services for children and young people. The majority of TB services and treatments are targeted at adults with a chronic infection.
But, the burden of TB on young people is particularly high and is extremely acute in children, The Lancet – Global Health estimates that mortality of under 5’s with TB is 43% (Carvalho and Kritski 2021).
Actions for community and youth
The #ENDTB campaign encourages communities to support healthcare professionals and health workers to provide essential TB services. It is crucial that these services are maintained and that health workers do not fear for their safety when conducting their duties.
Community action can play a big part in reducing the stigma around TB, the wide platform can provide education around the disease.
Communities should be proactive TB education by raising awareness of how the disease spreads and the importance of adherence to treatment regimens to prevent the spread of MDR TB.
In 2023, young people will play a key role in the fight against TB , now and in the future, with the creation of education programmes and special TB advocate roles to fight the rise in misinformation. The WHO also wants to encourage young people to pledge to stand up against TB stigma and discrimination, and encourage testing for the disease
WHO (2022) WHO Global Tuberculosis Report 2022 https://apps.who.int/iris/rest/bitstreams/1474924/retrieve
Carvalho, Anna Cristina C et al.(2021) What is the global burden of tuberculosis among children? The Lancet Global Health, Volume 10, Issue 2, e159 - e160 https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(21)00548-9/fulltext#:~:text=The%20estimated%20mortality%20of%20children,%C2%B79%25%20in%20treated%20children. [accessed 23/3/23]
WHO (2023) Calls to Action https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-tb-day/2023/calls-to-action [accessed 23/03/23]
WHO (2022) WHO Global Tuberculosis Report 2022 2.3 Drug-resistant TB https://www.who.int/teams/global-tuberculosis-programme/tb-reports/global-tuberculosis-report-2022/tb-disease-burden/2-3-drug-resistant-tb