United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Message on World Tuberculosis Day

As we approach the target year of 2015 for reaching the Millennium Development Goals, there is good news to report in the fight against tuberculosis (TB). The world is on track to reverse the spread of this airborne killer. Deaths from TB continue to decline. These gains owe much to the many health care providers -- governmental and non-governmental -- patient advocates and others who have helped to treat and cure 36 million people since 1995. As a result, about 6 million lives have been saved. Our challenge now is to maintain this momentum.

The theme of this year's observance of World TB Day is ?On the move against tuberculosis?. The international community is indeed on the move on several fronts. Affected communities now know more about TB, thanks to public awareness campaigns. Financing for TB control continues to grow through mechanisms such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. UNITAID is supporting the provision of urgently needed medicines and diagnostics. WHO is providing policy innovation and coordinating technical support as the disease continues to evolve. The UNAIDS campaign, ?No More People Living with HIV Dying of TB?, is promoting greater awareness of these interlinked epidemics. The research community has created pipelines of new diagnostics, medicines, and potential vaccines moving forward after decades of neglect.

But progress should never distract us from the challenges. The numbers are still staggering. Last year, TB claimed 1.8 million lives, making it the second biggest infectious killer of adults worldwide. TB ranks among the top three killers of women of reproductive age. Rates of new TB illness are falling in all regions, but not yet in all countries. Overall, rates of decline are far slower than needed. Lapses in control drive the rise of multidrug-resistant TB, which is far more costly and difficult to treat, and remind us of the constant risk of setbacks.

The international community has set a goal of universal access to prevention and treatment for all forms of TB, in adults and children, and among people living with HIV. In this day and age, no one should be dying from TB. On this World TB Day, let us stay ?on the move? in this important fight.