World TB Day celebrated on 24 March each year, is an opportunity to raise awareness about the burden of tuberculosis (TB) worldwide and the status of TB prevention and care efforts. It is also an opportunity to mobilize political and social commitment for further progress in efforts to end TB.
Unite to End TB: Leave no one behind
2017 is the second year of a two-year “Unite to End TB” campaign for World TB Day. This year, WHO will place a special focus on uniting efforts to “Leave No One Behind”, including actions to address stigma, discrimination, marginalization and overcome barriers to access care.
The Sustainable Development agenda embraces the principle of ensuring no one is left behind in an effort to transform the world and improve people’s lives for the better. Addressing the health needs of the disadvantaged, the marginalized, those out of reach of the health system will mean improving access to health services for everyone. This is essential in order to reach the target of ending TB by 2030 as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the WHO End TB Strategy.
World TB Day provides the platform for affected persons and communities, civil society organizations, health-care providers, policy makers, development partners and others to advocate, discuss and plan further collaboration to fulfil the promise of reaching all people with quality TB prevention and care services, as well as enabling TB prevention through multisectoral development efforts.
Last year, WHO reported that 10.4 million people fell ill with TB and there were 1.8 million TB deaths in 2015, making it the top infectious killer worldwide. This disease is deeply rooted in populations where human rights and dignity are limited. While anyone can contract TB, the disease thrives among people living in poverty, communities and groups that are marginalized, and other vulnerable populations.
These include: migrants, refugees, ethnic minorities, miners and others working and living in risk-prone settings, the elderly, marginalized women and children in many settings etc. Factors such as malnutrition, poor housing and sanitation, compounded by other risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use and diabetes, affect vulnerability to TB and access to care. Furthermore, this access is often hindered by catastrophic costs associated with illness, seeking and staying in care, and lack of social protection, resulting in a vicious cycle of poverty and ill-health. The transmission of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) adds great urgency to these concerns.