No One Should Die of Tuberculosis in the 21st Century

Posted on March 24, 2012 by

Patient dying of MDR-TB and HIV and her mother in Lesotho. (c) Open Society Institute/Pep Bonet

This is what we stand for. As today’s World TB Day comes to a close (at least in this part of the world), please take a minute to sign up to one of our expert-led communities on GHDonline.org — two focus on fighting and eradicating this deadly scourge (MDR-TB Treatment & Prevention and TB Infection Control).

And if you have a few more minutes, please read “No One Should Die of Tuberculosis in the 21st Century“, an article in the Huffington Post co-authored with Salmaan Keshavjee, MD, Ph.D, Sc.M, former GHDonline moderator, and currently Director of the Program in Infectious Disease and Social Change in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at HMS and a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is also a Senior TB Specialist at Partners In Health.

No One Should Die of Tuberculosis in the 21st Century

“How unromantic it is to die of tuberculosis in the twenty-first century.” These were the words of a Russian man in his twenties, written just before he died from drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB). Unromantic indeed: 130 years after it was first discovered and almost 60 years after the first antibiotics became available, one third of the world’s population is infected with TB. Every four seconds someone becomes sick, every day 4,500 people diefrom this largely treatable disease because they do not have access to proper diagnosis, medicines and care. We do not even know how many children die from TB because until very recently pediatric TB has been largely ignored by the global community. TB continues to be the leading killer of people with HIV.

It gets worse: A growing proportion of those infected with TB, like our Russian man, have drug-resistant forms which require longer courses of treatment with more toxic second-line drugs. Many patients die without any treatment, but not before transmitting the disease to others in their communities. These strains are now found everywhere. Some of them have become resistant to all known treatments.

Read entire article in the Huffington Post.