WHO: Ahead of us lies a future free of TB

Health | March 24, 2024, Sunday // 13:21|  views

Ahead of us lies a future free of TB

Statement on World TB Day by WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge

Today, tuberculosis is preventable, treatable and curable.

On the one hand, this knowledge saddens me when I think of the many people falling ill with TB in the WHO European Region – some 230,000 every year, according to most recent data.

On the other hand, it sparks hope knowing that ahead of us lies a future free of TB.

Under the latest WHO guidelines, most TB patients find the treatment process more comfortable and easier to complete.

They are mainly treated at home, avoiding lengthy hospitalization or daily visits to a clinic, instead they receive video calls from health workers to support them taking their medicines – now all oral. This puts people at the center of care and eliminates stigma and discrimination.

Drug-resistant TB treatment used to take 18 months with only a 55% success rate. Treatment now takes only 6 months in most cases and success rates are set to rise thanks to new drugs. This is a revolution! 

That is why I urge all countries to make the most of the latest WHO patient-centered guidelines, helping people stay with their loved ones and continue to earn a living and stay active.

Our Region is still suffering the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused 7000 extra deaths from TB in 2021 and 2022. Investment to get back on track and protect TB services from future pandemics, is badly needed.

Sadly, community organizations tell us that TB patients feel misunderstood and pushed to society's margins while health workers caring for people with TB feel ignored and unappreciated.

In response, today, on World TB Day 2024, I'm here to tell everyone involved in prevention and treatment, that the World Health Organization deeply appreciates your contribution to overcoming this disease.

And to the TB patients out there; thank you for your courage, for completing your treatment.

I can't say it in stronger terms; it is every TB patient's right to have access to safe, quality, affordable care - free of charge and stigma.

Remember; every cured TB patient brings us a step closer to a future free of tuberculosis.

As a doctor who spent years focusing on tackling TB, I am filled with hope that yes - we can end TB, together.

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Tags: Tuberculosis, WHO, Day, health


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