World TB Day, falling on March 24 each year, is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries. It commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing 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 people. Koch’s discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB.
The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department’s Tuberculosis (TB) Control Program protects the community’s health by preventing the occurrence and spread of TB, an illness caused by a bacterial infection most commonly found in the lungs but can be found in other parts of the body.
Once a case is diagnosed, TB medications must be taken for a six-to-nine-month period to complete treatment and eliminate the bacteria. Since this a long period of time and patients often stop taking their medications when they feel better, the LFCHD TB Control Program provides Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) to ensure that the patients complete the entire course of treatment. With DOT, the TB staff members personally take the medication to the patient wherever they designate (home, school, or work) to ensure every dose is taken. The TB Control Program also provides screening for TB exposure, PPD skin testing, an initial, effective method in diagnosing TB.
For more information about the difference between TB disease and infection, symptoms and testing, visit the health department’s website here.
The TB Partnership’s World TB Day Reach the 3 Million campaign
TB is curable, but our current efforts to find, treat and cure everyone who gets ill with the disease are not sufficient. Of the nine million people a year who get sick with TB, a third of them are “missed” by public health systems. Many of these three million people live in the world’s poorest, most vulnerable communities and include groups such as migrants, miners, drug users and sex workers.
The Stop TB Partnership believes that no one should be left behind in the fight against TB. This World TB Day, the organization calls for a global effort to find, treat and cure the three million and accelerate progress towards zero TB deaths, infections, suffering and stigma.
For more information about the Stop TB Partnership, click here.