Wednesday 22 October 2014

Disease at new low in Ireland for World TB day

Next Monday is World TB Day, with the aim of increasing public awareness of efforts to eliminate the disease
Next Monday is World TB Day, with the aim of increasing public awareness of efforts to eliminate the disease

There were 384 cases of TB reported in Ireland last year – one of the lowest rates of the disease recorded since surveillance began in the late 1990s.

Next Monday is World TB Day, with the aim of increasing public awareness about TB to support worldwide TB control efforts, including efforts to eliminate the disease.

It commemorates the day in 1882, when Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus.

"At the time of Koch's announcement in Berlin, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Koch's discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB," said Dr Joan O'Donnell of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

She said while great strides have been made to control and cure TB, people still get sick and die from this disease.

"Much more needs to be done to eliminate this disease. TB remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries."

The theme for World TB Day is 'Reach the three million: a TB test, treatment and cure for all'.

"TB is curable, but current efforts to find, treat and cure everyone who gets ill with the disease are not sufficient. Globally, of the nine million people a year who get sick with TB, a third of them are missed by public health systems – the missed three million.

"Many of these three million people live in the world's poorest, most vulnerable communities and include groups such as migrants, miners, drug users and sex workers.

"No one should be left behind in the fight against TB. This World TB Day, the call is for a global effort to find, treat and cure the three million and accelerate progress towards zero TB deaths, infections, suffering and stigma.

"Anyone can get TB, and current efforts to find and treat latent TB infection and TB disease are not sufficient."

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