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World TB Day: Celebrating a day of hope, 24 March 2013

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TB medicines are available and affordableTuberculosis is a preventable and treatable disease24 March, Cairo – On the occasion of World TB Day, Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, urges all partners to work together to fight tuberculosis (TB). “We know what to do, we know we can defeat tuberculosis, we know we can save unnecessary suffering caused by tuberculosis in our countries. With this conviction, let us commit ourselves to do better, and more, in our fight against tuberculosis."

World TB Day is commemorated every year on 24 March. It celebrates the discovery of the tuberculosis bacilli and serves as a reminder that TB continues to be the cause of the suffering of millions worldwide. This year, World TB Day will be celebrated across the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region with the slogan “Stop TB in My Lifetime”. The slogan is part of a two-year global campaign by the Stop TB Partnership which aims at promoting bold actions and an ambitious approach towards TB control. Despite appreciable progress made against TB by the global health community, more than 8.7 million new patients were diagnosed with TB and about 1.4 million people died because of it in 2011 alone.

Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, or MDR-TB, is yet another challenging aspect of the global efforts in TB control. Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, recently said, “We are treading water at a time when we desperately need to scale-up our response to MDR-TB...We have gained a lot of ground in TB control through international collaboration, but it can easily be lost if we do not act now.”

In the past decade, the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region, which includes countries from southwest Asia to north Africa, has witnessed some progress in TB control. The case detection rate increased from 50% to 62% during the period between 1990 and 2011. The treatment success rate has reached an impressive 88%.

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