USAID Recognizes World Tuberculosis Day

Press Statement from USAID Acting Administrator Alonzo Fulgham

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, March 24, 2009
USAID Press Office

WASHINGTON, DC - Almost a century ago, America was locked in a battle against TB, which was one of the leading causes of death, killing thousands annually. Today, although a cure for drug-sensitive TB has existed for more than 50 years, TB remains second only to HIV among infectious killers worldwide. The majority of TB cases and deaths occur in developing countries among the poorest and most vulnerable groups, especially women and children. World Tuberculosis Day is highlighted every year on March 24 to call attention to the disease and to mobilize action to combat it.

The American people are making major investments to prevent and control TB in countries where the burden of the disease is highest. Through the STOP TB Partnership, we are a key player in global efforts to halve TB prevalence and deaths by 2015. Achieving this goal could save 14 million lives, and have broader benefits for nations and economies.

USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency for international TB control programs, supporting efforts in 40 countries. USAID works in close partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which is leading the U.S. Government's efforts to address TB/HIV co-infection.

There is good news to share on the TB control front. According to The 2009 Global Tuberculosis Control Report, released today by the World Health Organization (WHO), TB prevalence and death rates are falling globally. Three of six regions in the world (Americas, Eastern Mediterranean, and South-East Asia) are on track to achieve the WHO Global Plan to Stop TB 2006 - 2015 targets, and the Western Pacific Region is making strong strides toward the goal.

Much work remains to be done. Neither Africa nor Europe is on track to meet the WHO targets. HIV fuels the TB epidemic. The number of HIV-positive TB cases and deaths are twice what was previously thought. Moreover, multi-drug resistant TB threatens to undermine years of progress in TB control, because the treatment requires different and more costly drugs.

On World TB Day, we recommit to work with countries and the international community to successfully implement the Global Plan to Stop TB 2006 - 2015. The lives of millions of people across the globe depend on true international cooperation to solve the TB problem once and for all.