World TB Day - 24th March 2015

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World TB Day, which falls on March 24th each year, is intended to increase public and professional awareness about tuberculosis (TB) and to support worldwide TB control efforts including efforts to eliminate the disease. It commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced 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 persons. Koch's discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB.

While great strides have been made to control and cure TB, people still get sick and die from this disease and much more needs to be done to eliminate it. TB remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people annually, mostly in developing countries.

Theme for World TB Day 2015Stop TB Partnership

The Stop TB partnership theme for World TB Day 2015 is "Reach, Treat, Cure Everyone". TB is curable, but current efforts to find, treat and cure everyone who gets ill with the disease are insufficient. Globally, of the nine million people who get sick with TB each year, one-third 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, drug users and sex workers. Major efforts are needed to close this gap. Misdiagnosis of TB still exists and health care professionals often do not "think TB".

For World TB Day 2015, partners will continue to call for a global effort to find, treat and cure all people with TB and to accelerate progress towards the bold goal of the "pre-elimination" of TB (defined as <10 TB cases per million) by 2035, and elimination of TB as a public health problem (<1 TB case per million population) by 2050. To address TB, it is necessary to focus on weaknesses in countries’ health systems. Sustained and predictable funding and political engagement and support are needed. The importance of eliminating barriers to all recommended TB diagnostics and drugs and addressing TB and MDR-TB as global security threats will also be highlighted, along with the fact that TB needs to be everyone’s concern. Anyone can get TB, and current efforts to find and treat latent TB infection and TB disease are not sufficient.

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control-Theme for World TB Day 2015
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) will focus on the specific challenges that Europe faces on the road to the elimination of TB. Despite historically low numbers and a significant decline over the last ten years, EU/EEA countries are not all progressing in the same direction. The downward trend is influenced by a marked decline of TB in high-priority countries, whereas in some low-incidence countries the notification rates are actually going up. To become the first continent free of tuberculosis, Europe needs to step up its efforts and move from passive control to active elimination.

The key messages from ECDC are outlined below;

  • At the current pace of an annual 6% decline, the EU/EEA will only be free of tuberculosis in the next century. In order to achieve elimination by 2050 for example, Europe would have to cut down cases at least twice as fast.
  • Europe needs tailored interventions which target each country’s settings. In most low-incidence countries TB rates are stable or going down only very slowly and the majority of patients are of foreign-origin. Countries with high incidence overall face higher rates of re-infection and relapses and report many more MDR TB cases.
  • The goal to eliminate TB depends on a more efficient use of current tools and interventions, to be complemented by new and more effective ones

Epidemiology of TB – Ireland
In 2014, there were 328 cases of TB reported in Ireland, a notification rate of 7.1 per 100,000. This is the lowest notification rates recorded since TB surveillance began. [Data for 2014 are provisional]

In 2014, the notification rate for TB in the indigenous population was 4.7 per 100,000 while the rate in foreign-born persons was 17.5 per 100,000. The number of TB cases reported in Ireland has declined since the 1990s with 604 cases reported in 1992, a rate of 17.1 per 100,000. The decline has been even more considerable since the early 1950s when 7,000 cases of TB were notified annually.

More information on tuberculosis in Ireland is available on the HPSC website. See also TB reports for Ireland.

References
1. World Health Organization. Global Tuberculosis Control 2012. WHO, Geneva, Switzerland. 2012. Available at: http://www.who.int/tb/publications/global_report/en/

More information on World TB Day 2015 is available at:

Stop TB Partnership
Stop TB Partnership Twitter
World Health Organization - Europe
European Centre for Disease Control
Centers for Disease Prevention and Control USA