March 2022, Cairo – On 24 March, the world marks World Tuberculosis Day and WHO invite leaders to invest to end TB and Save lives. Investing in this disease that has devastating health, social and economic impacts on people can find missing cases, reduce mortality and improve productivity. One dollar well invested in TB prevention and care yields more than 40 dollars in return.
In 2020, the number of TB deaths in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region rose for the first time in over a decade, from 77,700 to 83,000. In 2021, WHO estimated that TB has killed more people worldwide than any other infectious disease, except COVID-19. Treatment coverage decreased to 52%, meaning that approximately half of all people with TB were neither diagnosed nor treated.
On World TB Day, Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region, highlighted the need to invest more to end TB within a holistic approach. “In 2021, 38% of the resource needs for TB were unfunded. We need to invest and increase access to essential TB services for children and adults alike and to address the socioeconomic determinants of this disease in all their dimensions. I call on actors beyond the health sector to join us in the fight as per the WHO’s TB Multisectoral Accountability Framework.”
The campaign is also an opportunity to reduce stigma. Over half of the children and adolescents with TB experience difficulties in diagnosis and treatment. “The whole of society needs to invest in TB,