About a quarter of the world’s population is infected with tuberculosis (TB) with majority of cases in Asia and Africa. In Canada, TB among Inuit is a public health crisis. Reportedly, rate of active TB in Inuit is 300 times higher than the rate for Canadian-born non-indigenous populations.
TB wreaks havoc in the lungs and can affect other parts of the body, like the brain, kidney, and spine. TB has existed for at least a million years and is among the top ten global causes of death. Nonetheless, TB is preventable and treatable. Have you ever imagined a world free from TB! Eliminating TB would save millions of people from death and disability, reduce healthcare debt, end stigma and discrimination, restore families and livelihoods, and save the world trillions of dollars in healthcare.
Shared vision, technological advancements and concerted global campaigns have helped eradicate smallpox and restrict polio to limited geographies. Stop TB toolbox requires advanced surveillance systems; quality diagnostics; smooth access and availability of fast acting drugs capable of treating tmulti-drug resistant (MDR) TB; as well as a new vaccine (current TB vaccine being more than 100 years old). Ensuring treatment compliance through comprehensive nutritional care and adequate social support is indispensable.
The pandemic stalled progress and reversed death counts in 2020. The fight against TB demands renewed focus and investments. Canada has been the front runner in the fight against TB and must maintain its investment of $33 million over three years in TB REACH to ensure the communities affected by TB can access the care they need. Therefore, Canadian funding needs to be to imagine a world without TB!
Preety Sharma, Milton, ON