The Secretary - General message on World TB Day, 24 March 07.
The theme for this year’s World TB Day, "TB anywhere is TB everywhere", is a rallying cry for coordinated global action at a critical stage of our fight against the disease.
We are currently seeing both the fruits of global action to control TB, and the lethal nature of the disease’s ongoing burden, especially for the most vulnerable communities. Globally, the World Health Organization reports that TB incidence rates may have peaked and that mortality is beginning to fall -- a sign that the Millennium Development Goal of reversing TB incidence is achievable. Almost 60 per cent of TB cases worldwide are now detected, and out of those, the vast majority is cured. Over the past decade, 26 million patients have been placed on effective TB treatment thanks to the efforts of Governments and a wide range of partners.
But at the same time, TB is on the rise in many countries. It still kills 4,400 people every day. The number of people falling ill with TB continues to increase. TB is the disease most people with AIDS actually die of -- and now the appearance of extensively drug-resistant TB not only threatens us with a new pandemic, but also poses a serious risk to the effectiveness of HIV treatment programmes.
To highlight the grave public health threat and the need for a stepped up response, I have joined many other world leaders in signing the Call to Stop TB. I hope yet more will do the same. But we must give life to the pledge we have signed. We must fully implement the Global Plan to Stop TB, 2006-2015. If we do, we will save 14 million lives and make possible the development of urgently needed new TB drugs and diagnostics that will be essential to eliminating TB.
A cost-effective cure for TB has been available for more than 50 years. Yet for many, life-saving treatments still remain out of reach. We need more political will. We need better financing. Let this be the year to scale up action against all forms of TB anywhere and everywhere.