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Tuberculosis

Updated 25 March 2019

#ItsTime — World TB Day 2019 highlights working together to eradicate the deadly disease

Everyone, from civilians to congress, and everyone else in between, need to step up and start working together to eradicate one of the world’s deadliest diseases — TB.

World TB Day is commemorated on March 24 following the discovery of the bacterium causing the disease by German physician, Dr Robert Koch. This year’s theme, ‘It’s Time!’, allows for many aspects around the disease to be promoted.

The Stop TB Partnership has constructed several statements to show how the theme could be effectively used as a call to action, such as:

  • it’s time to now your TB status
  • it’s time for a world without TB
  • it’s time to keep the promises made at the United Nations High Level Meeting on TB

The final bullet is probably the most poignant.

In September 2018, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly hosted the first-ever High-Level Meeting (HLM) on TB in New York. After being in office for roughly seven months, President Cyril Ramaphosa was urged to attend, following civil society groups stressing that more heads of state, ministers and leaders become fully invested in ending the scourge of TB.

The theme for the meeting was “United to end tuberculosis: an urgent global response to a global epidemic”. At the meeting, a declaration was taken, and a commitment was made to ensure that 40 million people with TB receive the care they need by 2022, along with providing preventative treatment to protect a further 30 million people from developing TB.

Our top 10 articles for World TB Day 2019 shows the never-ending war on the deadly disease, because while major progress has been made in the fight to eradicate the diseases, there is still so much to do. 

Education around the disease and how best to protect yourself from it, or get treatment for it, is worth spreading.

1. What is tuberculosis (TB) and what causes it?

What is tuberculosis what causes tuberculosis TB

Tuberculosis or TB is a chronic infectious disease caused by bacteria which usually attack the lungs (pulmonary TB). The bacteria can destroy parts of the lungs. It's caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis and it can be infectious, which means the bacteria can be spread to other people.

2. Symptoms of tuberculosis

symptoms of tuberculosis TB

Symptoms of TB may include: a cough that starts out dry but later produces sputum, chest pain, weakness or fatigue, chills and fevers.

3. Diagnosing tuberculosis

how is tuberculosis TB diagnosed

A small amount of testing fluid, called tuberculin or PPD, is injected beneath the skin of your lower arm. You are told within three days whether the test reaction was positive.

4. Treating tuberculosis

tuberculosis TB testing

People with active TB are usually treated with several anti-TB drugs. Daily oral doses are continued for six months. There are, however, different strains of the bacterium, which your doctor will be able to test you for. Once the strain is known, the appropriate action will be taken to treat it.

5. How can tuberculosis be prevented?

best practices tuberculosis TB prevention

Detection of early cases and prompt treatment are crucial in controlling the spread of TB. There are several methods to taking care of yourself and your loved ones.

6. Major battles have been won against TB. But the war isn’t over

many tuberculosis wins but war rages on

Even though major strides are being made in research around TB, millions are still being infected by one of the world's leading killers.

7. Historic UN TB declaration ‘falls short’ say activists

United Nations High Level Meeting on Tuberculosis

Civil society groups have criticised the United Nations declaration on tuberculosis saying it ‘falls short’ on critical issues in the fight against the world’s top infectious killer.

8. Drug-resistant TB can be cured in less than half the time, new study shows

treatment for tuberculosis TB how is tuberculosis

The much-anticipated final results of a TB treatment trial known as STREAM, has found that a nine- to 11-month treatment course is just as effective as the previous standard of 20 to 24 months of drugs in curing patients with multi-drug resistant TB.

9. Don’t let TB go untreated during pregnancy

tuberculosis pregnancy do not leave untreated

HIV-positive pregnant women with TB are encouraged to adhere to treatment because the disease can be successfully treated in pregnancy.

10. Poor care and stigma are barriers to SA’s treatment of children with TB

poor care and stigma attached to tuberculosis TB c

Stigma, and an unequipped private sector are barriers to fighting South Africa’s top killer disease, tuberculosis — especially in children.

Image credits: iStock