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Marking World TB Day, Annan hails plan to save 14 million lives

Marking World TB Day, Annan hails plan to save 14 million lives

In a message marking World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called for maximum support for plans to treat an additional 50 million people for the disease and save 14 million lives over the next 10 years.

“These forecasts are ambitious, but they are achievable – if everyone plays their part in supporting the Global Plan,” Mr. Annan said, describing how Actions for Life, the Global Plan to Stop TB, 2006-2015 supports the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the set of targets in reducing extreme poverty and other global ills by 2015, which were adopted by the 2000 UN World Summit.

“The Plan offers a way to reach the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the burden of TB, and help prevent this disease from targeting the poorest of the poor, and the most vulnerable people on earth,” he said.

Mr. Annan explained there were currently many positive developments in TB control, but on the ground around the world the picture is mixed. With half of all cases in Asia, China, India, the Philippines and Indonesia are investing more in TB control, and in Latin America and the Middle East, there are fewer new cases every year.

In Eastern Europe, as well, after years of rising figures, the number of cases is stabilizing, and there is hope of containing multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis, Mr. Annan continued, adding that, however, “in all these settings, far more needs to be done to reach the poor and others who are highly vulnerable to disease.”

“Above all,” he said, “it is in Africa where extraordinary action is needed,” pointing out that it is the only continent where the number of cases continues to increase, together with HIV/AIDS. Last year, African ministers declared TB an emergency.

Mr. Annan said that Actions for Life represented a detailed plan for the needed action, however, and had garnered commitment from the Group of Eight and the 2005 World Summit for concerted action against the disease, which means mobilizing resources, expanding TB control programmes within strengthened health systems, implementing joint measures against TB/HIV, and investing in research.

“On this World TB Day, let us resolve to advance towards a world free of TB,” he said, adding: “Let us take action for life.”