World Tuberculosis Day: Arindam Mitra

Posted on March 25, 2024   by Microbiology Society

24 March is World Tuberculosis Day – a global initiative that raises awareness around Tuberculosis, one of the most infectious diseases with a high global burden of mortality. Society Champion and Members Panel member, Arindam Mitra, Professor of Microbiology and Head of the Department of Biological Sciences, Adamas University, India, has shared a blog on the importance of strategies to control and prevent Tuberculosis.

Arindam Mitra - head image
© Arindam Mitra

March 24 is celebrated as World Tuberculosis Day which marks the day of the announcement of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by Robert Koch in 1882. Over a century later, the day has evolved into an important day for raising awareness, commemorating accomplishments and highlighting future challenges in the fight against tuberculosis (TB). TB is a dreaded disease that primarily affects the lungs and can be transmitted from human to human through the air. TB is a disease that disproportionately affects people from economically disadvantaged and socially marginalised communities, resulting in inequity in the disease distribution. Individuals living in crowded conditions and immunocompromised individuals (particularly HIV and hospital patients) are especially susceptible to TB [1-4]. Even 140 years since the discovery of the pathogen, the global eradication of TB remains a challenge. ‘Yes! We Can End TB!’ is the theme adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Stop TB Partnership for this year’s World TB Day [5].

Despite being a preventable and treatable disease, tuberculosis remains one of the leading causes of death globally, with millions of new cases reported each year. TB can be treated using antibiotics, however, with the emergence of multidrug-resistant TB, treatment can be challenging [6]. In many cases, the patients may not receive adequate support or the care needed from their health system. Additionally, scaling up antiretroviral treatment and latent TB infection treatment is crucial [7, 8]. Improved diagnostics to detect TB and MDR-TB are key considerations for the eradication of TB [9]. Consequently, there are development opportunities and challenges in the fight against tuberculosis. WHO's post-2015 End TB Strategy, adopted by the organisation in 2014, aims to end the global TB epidemic as part of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) [10, 11]. It provides a roadmap for countries to reduce tuberculosis incidences by 80% and deaths by 90%, eliminating enormous costs for TB-affected households by 2030, in alignment with SDGs. Many of the SDGs, particularly goals 1–3, 7–8 and 11, can contribute to multisectoral involvement to end TB. 

The fight against TB requires a global effort, including high-level leadership and increased collaboration among government ministries, communities, the private sector, civil society and various stakeholders. It will require both health and socio-economic interventions, with a focus on increased investments in diagnostics, treatment, research and innovation. Faster implementation of new WHO recommendations and support for high-burden countries are needed to achieve the goal of ending TB. International cooperation and investment in TB research are essential for improving global TB control efforts and supporting the development of new diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.

As we celebrate World TB Day in 2024, let us reflect on the advancements achieved and the obstacles that lie ahead. The significance of global health solidarity and the necessity for resilient healthcare systems has been emphasised by the COVID-19 pandemic. Allocating resources towards control, research and prevention of  TB is a pragmatic requirement to protect worldwide health. Together it is possible to create a world free from TB, without any mortality and suffering from the disease, constructing a healthier future for all.

Find out more about current TB research in the Journal of Medical Microbiology.

Thumbnail credit: iStock/Olena Bardysheva


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