Nigeria, some UN Member States, civil society representatives and other stakeholders have approved a declaration to advance efforts to end Tuberculosis (TB) by 2030.
The document lays out ambitious new targets for the next five years that include reaching 90 per cent of people with TB prevention and care services, providing social benefit packages to those who have the disease, and licensing at least one new vaccine.
TB is the second leading infectious killer disease worldwide after COVID-19, with some 1.6 million deaths in 2021 alone, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Also, the only available vaccine for TB is more than a century old.
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All the 193 Member States and stakeholders made the political commitment at a High-level meeting on the fight against Tuberculosis at the ongoing 78th of the UN General Assembly.
“Why, after all the progress we have made – from sending man to the moon to bringing the world to our fingertips – have we been unable to defeat a preventable and curable disease that kills over 4,400 people a day?” the President of the UN General Assembly, Dennis Francis, said.
TB had afflicted humanity for millennia, going by several names including the white plague and consumption.
It is caused by bacteria and mainly affects the lungs, and treatment is with antibiotics.
A WHO council established to facilitate the development and equitable use of new vaccines met for the first time this week.
Stamping out the TB epidemic is among the health targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the roadmap for a more just and green global future by the end of the decade.
Five years ago, countries set the target of delivering TB treatment to 40 million people, reaching 34 million. They also aimed to provide 30 million with preventive treatment but fell short by half.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed called for action to tackle the main drivers of TB – poverty, undernutrition, lack of access to healthcare, the prevalence of HIV infections, diabetes, mental health, and smoking.
“Stigma surrounding the disease also needs to be reduced so that people can get help without fear of discrimination,” she added while urging governments to ensure universal health coverage that includes TB screening, prevention, and treatment. (NAN)