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March 25, 2020

TB patients more vulnerable to Covid-19

Lahore

March 25, 2020

LAHORE:The World TB Day 2020 was commemorated in Pakistan and around the world on Tuesday with Covid-19 in focus as the world stands in solidarity and with resilience in the fight against two airborne diseases: TB and Covid-19.

“A multi-stakeholder approach to infectious disease control based on a partnership between government, the private sector, the research sector and affected community is essential if the Covid-19 virus is to be defeated,” said the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (The Union).

The Union also recognised that people living with tuberculosis (TB) are likely to be more vulnerable to Covid-19 and its effects and reiterated that it is essential to ensure that access to TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment continue in what is an unsettling environment.

“We know what works to fight Covid-19 from our experience and the tools we have developed to end TB: infection control, wide-spread testing, contact tracing, X-rays, artificial intelligence, telemedicine and psycho-social support,” said The Union. “Today, prevention of any disease requires in the first instance, political will – and prevention remains the biggest tool we have to address Covid-19.

“Years of under-investment in supporting health systems in the TB response made TB and its drug resistant forms the biggest infectious disease killer with over 4,000 deaths per day. We can’t afford to repeat these mistakes and be unprepared for pandemics like Covid-19.”

Under this year’s theme ‘It’s Time’, the spotlight is on urgently accelerating the TB response to save lives and end suffering against Tuberculosis, which remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer. Each day, over 4,000 people lose their lives to TB and close to 30,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease. Global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 58 million lives since the year 2000. To accelerate the TB response in countries to reach targets – Heads of State, including Pakistan came together and made strong commitments to end TB at the first-ever UN meeting in September 2018.

Each year, the world commemorates World Tuberculosis (TB) Day on March 24 to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB, and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic. The date marks the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease.

TB is now the largest infectious disease killer in the world. Some 1.5 million people die each year of TB and the number of people who develop TB disease each year, approximately 10 million, has been relatively static for decades.

“The importance of collaboration in research and development is also critical,” said The Union. “We need knowledge, resource sharing and pooling of information to maximise our ability to deliver effective care for everyone in need and develop new innovations, including a vaccine.

“It’s extremely important that we don’t stop here or allow ourselves to only value these systems during an outbreak – we need to maintain these principles of collaboration more broadly so that we can tackle other real and present threats to human health and to be one step ahead of future emergencies.”