World Tuberculosis Day: Around ten million people worldwide suffer from consumption
More than ten million people worldwide have tuberculosis. The bacterial infectious disease claims around 5,000 lives a day - even though it has been curable for decades. On the occasion of World Tuberculosis Day, health experts are calling for drugs to be made affordable even for people affected by poverty.
Rich countries have to do more
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 10.4 million people worldwide developed tuberculosis in 2016. A total of 1.7 million people died in the previous year. This is what the DAHW German Leprosy and Tuberculosis Aid on World Tuberculosis Day on March 24th. The experts are calling on the governments of the rich countries to invest more in research. "Medicines must be affordable for people living in poverty in all countries," they write in a message.
The number of new cases remained constant
The infectious disease, which was formerly referred to as “consumption”, claims around 5,000 lives every day. This is more than the deaths from HIV and malaria combined.
Although the number of deaths declined slightly, the number of newly ill patients remained constant.
According to the DAHW, 600,000 suffer from resistant forms of TB and one million of the newly ill TB patients were simultaneously infected with HIV.
Many of the hardest hit countries are reported to lack comprehensive TB control and prevention.
Transmission by droplet infection
Tuberculosis (also: TBC) is a bacterial infectious disease that particularly affects the lungs. It used to be referred to as “consumption”.
Triggers are so-called "mycobacteria", which mainly affect the lungs and are transmitted especially when coughing, sneezing and speaking.
At the beginning of the disease, non-specific symptoms such as cough, night sweats and a slightly elevated temperature appear.
The symptoms increase later and can include high fever, persistent cough with expectoration and shortness of breath. The disease is usually easy to treat with antibiotics.
No access to medical care
But especially refugees in African countries like Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda often have no access to medical care.
Due to the poor spatial and hygienic conditions and the poor nutritional situation, the disease breaks out quickly, especially in the confusing refugee camps, where more and more people are infected with the fatal disease.
If there are interruptions in treatment or discontinuation, the TB bacteria can become resistant to common medications. Then only very expensive drugs help.
Affordable drugs for resistant forms of TB
The experts at DAHW are therefore calling for the development of a reliable vaccine and effective and affordable medication for the resistant forms of TB.
"The governments of the rich countries must support the research in a targeted manner and at the same time ensure that the medicines developed from it are affordable in poor countries," the statement said.
The therapy of patients with multi-resistant TB (MDR-TB) still fails too often due to the high costs.
Years can pass before the onset of the disease
The dangerous illness occurs again and again in this country. At the end of last year, around 900 students in Dresden had to undergo a tuberculosis test, as several TBC cases were reported at two schools.
A few months earlier, the disease had been proven in a kindergarten child in Hessen.
According to health experts, the disease is often overlooked during examinations, as it can take years from infection to the outbreak of TBC.
As the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) writes on its website, tuberculosis can still develop "decades after infection", especially if the immune system is weakened. (ad)