United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today joined the “Call to Stop Tuberculosis,” a global partnership to stamp out the curable disease which kills almost 2 million people every year.
The campaign is part of the Stop TB partnership, lead by the UN World Health Organization (WHO), which envisions a tuberculosis-free world where the first children born this millennium will see the eradication of the disease in their lifetime.
In a related development, officials announced today that more than 1 million lives in 102 countries have been saved, thanks to the efforts of the UN-backed Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
“It is heartening to learn that Global Fund resources have provided so many people across the globe, once suffering from this terrible disease, with renewed hope,” said Dr. Carol Jacobs, the Chair of the organization’s Board, in advance of World TB Day on 24 March.
Since its creation five years ago, the Global Fund, an international public/private partnership, is now the world’s largest donor in the fight against tuberculosis. The initiative has provided almost 70 per cent of all funding, totalling close to $2 billion for 133 programmes in 102 countries.
The disease is a major cause of death among people with HIV/AIDS. Of the 40 million people with HIV/AIDS, it is estimated that one third of them are also infected with tuberculosis.
Sub-Saharan Africa has been hardest hit with the HIV-fuelled drug-resistant tuberculosis epidemic, which threatens to minimize the gains made so far in HIV/AIDS treatments.
Tuberculosis strains that are resistant to drugs are of particular concern to the Global Fund, which advocates effective national tuberculosis programmes as the best method to prevent the transmission of these strains.
“We must step up the fight by mobilizing even more resources in order to expand and improve the quality of existing programmes to treat ordinary tuberculosis and drug-resistant TB, and make greater investments in HIV/TB co-infection interventions,” said Sir Richard Feachem, the Global Fund’s outgoing Executive Director.