Even though we are in the XXI century, there is a disease that is still claiming a huge number of lives, similar to what was happening in the 18th and 19th century. Politicians, celebrities, high level dignitaries, and even ordinary people know too little about it, and it is time to address this. It is such a silent killer that most people think that we do not have it anymore. Here are 20 facts that you may not know:
1. This disease is spread through the air, and no one breathing is immune from this -- anyone can get infected in as little as a flight duration or while being in a waiting room with people spreading it.
2. Anyone sick with this disease and not on treatment can spread it when they cough, sneeze, spit or sing.
3. People with the disease can infect their children, family members, friends and colleagues.
4. 2 billion people -- or one-third of the world's population -- is already infected with it.
5. Nearly 4,500 people die every day from this disease, including 400 children -- making it the No. 1 infectious disease killer in the world.
6. People living with HIV are 30 times more likely to become sick with the disease.
7. People with diabetes are three times more likely to become sick with the disease than people without diabetes.
8. Even though we have known how to cure it for the last 60 years, we are not even close to eliminating it.
9. There are forms of this disease, spread through the air as well that are resistant to almost all known effective antibiotics, making it virtually untreatable.
10. If sick with a drug resistant form of this disease, the treatment takes two years or more and the drugs have side effects such as deafness, blindness, depression and even suicide.
11. The two-year treatment for drug resistance means people need to take 15,000 pills and 240 injections.
12. The disease can make women infertile.
13. The disease can occur in bones, in the urinary tract, or in the brain.
14. The main tool used worldwide today for diagnosis of this disease was discovered in the 19th century.
15. The only vaccine available for this disease is 100 years old and has limited efficacy.
16. It is one of the best investments in public health -- for each dollar invested, it gives $85 in return.
17. The world needs to invest $65 billion over the next five years ($56 billion in implementation and $9 billion in research) if we are to tackle ending this disease.
18. 10 million lives can be saved and 45 million cases of this diseases can be avoided with a $56 billion dollar investment between 2016-2020.
19. Every year almost 4 million people with the disease are not recorded, diagnosed, treated or cured and each one is very likely to infect 10 to 15 other people per year
20. The world has the power to end this disease -- we just need to want to do it.
This disease is tuberculosis (TB).
Today, the Stop TB Partnership launched its new five-year investment plan, the Global Plan to End TB
2016-2020: The Paradigm Shift, which represents the roadmap to accelerating impact on the TB epidemic and reaching the targets of the WHO End TB Strategy.
The world is losing its battle with tuberculosis (TB), which is now the biggest infectious killer globally, causing 1.5 million deaths every year. Without a clear investment plan and a complete overhaul in how this disease is tackled, TB is unlikely to be eliminated until the end of the 22nd century, and the world will miss the recently announced Sustainable Development Goal to end TB by 2030.
To implement the actions proposed in the Global Plan to End TB first and foremost, a change in mindset is required - with a combination of existing tools and new ones in development, the disease can and will be defeated. The new strategy is centered on a human rights and gender approach, stronger political leadership and a community and patient-based focus. And the plan also highlights we must also have new and innovative TB programs, integrated interventions within country health systems, and improvements to the poor socioeconomic conditions in which TB can thrive (including overcrowded housing and undernutrition).
We know it can be done, we know how it can be done, we know how much it will cost us -- we need to have the desire to do it and energy to move on. Ours can be the generation remembered as the one that turned the tide on this enormous yet treatable epidemic.