World TB day 2017 - March 24th


World TB day is held every year on March 24th with the aim of raising awareness about TB among both health professionals and the public, and to support global efforts to prevent and control TB. World TB day commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus.

TB remains primarily a disease of poverty: more than 95% of cases of TB occur in the developing world as do the majority of deaths. Drug resistance is also a major challenge. Patients with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR- TB) and extensively-drug resistant TB (XDR-TB) face much longer treatment, take more drugs, suffer from more side effects and treatment costs are five times higher compared to those with drug-susceptible TB.

World TB Day 2017 - Global theme
For 2017, the global Stop TB Partnership chose the theme “Unite to end TB”. The Stop TB partnership is using the symbol of a red arrow to represent the global solidarity to a world without TB.

World TB Day 2017 - European focus
While the global theme of World TB day 2017 is "Unite to End TB”, the European theme is “TB/HIV co-infection”. While there has been a welcome decline in TB cases and associated deaths in the WHO European region between 2011 and 2015, certain vulnerable groups such as people living with HIV, prisoners and migrants have not benefited from this trend. In particular, there was a 40% increase in new TB/HIV co-infections during this period of time. Providing testing to all TB patients for HIV and vice versa, together with treatment could reverse the negative trend.

The WHO Regional TB Action Plan 2016-2020 and the policy on collaborative TB/HIV co-infection strongly recommend that European countries systematically provide HIV testing to all TB patients and vice versa. Following diagnosis, patients should receive anti-retroviral drug treatment and be supported through integrated and people centred TB/HIV health services. Despite this recommendation for HIV testing in all TB cases, only 34.4% of TB cases reported by EU/EEA countries to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in 2015 had a known HIV status.

TB is a leading killer among people living with HIV, and this deadly combination of TB/HIV co-infection has been sharply increasing from 5.5% to 9% over the last five years in the WHO European Region. People suffering from TB/HIV co-infection are seven times more likely to fail treatment and three times more likely to die than people with TB disease only.

Epidemiology of TB in Ireland
The incidence of TB in Ireland has been declining, however more than 300 cases of TB were diagnosed in 2016. Over the last 10 years, the number of cases of TB decreased from 450 in 2005 to 319 cases in 2016 with the crude incidence declining from 10.6 /100,000 population in 2005 to 7.0/100,000 in 2016. In 2016, the incidence in foreign-born persons was 20.5/100,000, while in Irish-born it was 3.7/100,000. HIV status of TB cases in Ireland remains poorly reported, despite being a recommendation of the Guidelines on the Prevention and Control of Tuberculosis in Ireland 2010, as well as the ECDC and WHO target of 100% of TB cases with known HIV status. In 2016, only 38.2% of TB cases had HIV status reported.

TB graph 2016

For more information on the epidemiology of TB in Ireland see the HPSC website:
• 2016 Q1-4 report
• 2015 TB Annual report

For more information on TB worldwide see:

Stop TB Partnership:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA: and

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control:

World Health Organization: and