World Tuberculosis Day on 24 March
Tuberculosis - more dangerous than ever before!
(Würzburg, March 2009). The number of patients infected with tuberculosis has tripled within the last 15 years. Almost 10 million people are infected with TB every year. Every 20 seconds a person dies of this highly infectious disease, and its related infectious disease agents, resistant to the standard therapy, are spreading more and more. Coinciding with the World Tuberculosis Day on 24 March, the German Leprosy and Tuberculosis Relief Association (DAHW) warns not to downplay this deadly disease. According to Dr. Adolf Diefenhardt, Director of the Medical-Social Project Department of DAHW, “the fight against this infectious disease has to be intensified, especially now that numerous people in developing countries have become even poorer than before as a result of the global economic crisis.”
The main reasons for the rise of tuberculosis infections are the rapid increase of resistant tuberculosis, especially in Eastern Europe, and the co-infection of TB and HIV. Moreover, the rising number of infected children gives reason for concern. Dr. Diefenhardt explains that “children have a much higher risk of being infected with tuberculosis. Compared to an adult, their immune system is usually not as strong.” In various regions of Africa, 40% of all TB patients are children under the age of 14.
Especially dangerous is the rapidly rising number of patients with resistant tuberculosis germs as well as TB/HIV co-infections. These patients often need time-consuming care and a personalized diet as well as complex medications. The normal, and relatively cheap, standard therapy (on average 50€ per patient) is not sufficient there. The current costs for treatment of resistant tuberculosis are approximately 5,000€.
In 2008, DAHW contributed to give life-saving treatment to almost 450,000 TB patients. DAHW finances 281 projects in 32 countries, among them 135 programmes to combat TB in 22 countries.
Tuberculosis is a disease of the poor. It is the infectious disease with the most casualties worldwide. Without treatment, the disease is deadly in 50% of all cases. With a mixture of various antibiotics, TB is curable within six to eight months. The complete monitoring and supervision of the patients from diagnosis up to the cure is very important. One third of mankind – more than two billion people (!) – is infected with the tuberculosis bacterium.
The World Health Organization (WHO) will publish the worldwide TB numbers for 2007 on 24 March 2009.
DAHW is a member of:
- DZK – German Central Committee for the Fight against TB
- Stop-TB-Partnership, initiated by the WHO