World Tuberculosis Day

World Tuberculosis Day Quick Facts - ZA

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2024 Date24 March 2024
2025 Date24 March 2025

World Tuberculosis Day

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World Tuberculosis Day History

World Tuberculosis Day seeks to raise awareness to Tuberculosis (TB), a disease which is preventable and curable, but still claims millions of lives every year. The core aim is to advocate for intensified action to end the TB epidemic, focusing on the critical importance of early TB detection and treatment. Stakeholders, such as health organizations and government agencies, use this occasion to provide updated information on the disease, progress made in the prevention and control efforts, and areas needing improvement.

The observance traces its roots back to 1982 when the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease launched World TB Day to mark the 100th anniversary of Dr Robert Koch's discovery of the TB bacillus. South Africa, being one of the countries with the highest TB burdens globally, has a significant role in the fight against the disease. The incidence of TB in South Africa is fuelled by the concurrent HIV epidemic, making strategies to tackle these twin epidemics crucial. Furthermore, multidrug-resistant TB poses a significant challenge to TB control in the country.

In South Africa, World Tuberculosis Day usually features widespread media campaigns, health awareness initiatives, and educational events. Government departments, in collaboration with non-governmental organizations, arrange these activities to educate communities and mobilise resources to fight TB. These functions are often held in high TB burden areas. Recognizing the gravity of the TB burden in the country, the South African National TB Association also conducts activities aimed at improving TB control efforts. World Tuberculosis Day is held each year on March 24th.

Facts about World Tuberculosis Day

  • The theme for World Tuberculosis Day in 2024 was Yes! We can end TB. The theme in 2022 was Invest to End TB. Save Lives.
  • Tuberculosis is the leading killer of HIV/AIDS-positive people.
  • The struggle to end TB is not just a struggle against a single disease. It’s also the struggle to end poverty, inequity, unsafe housing, discrimination and stigma, and to extend social protection and universal health coverage. - World Health Organization Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom
  • In a bid to rapidly reduce TB infections, South Africa co-hosted the first-ever TB summit in 2018 with the governments of Mozambique and Kenya with other world leaders presenting strategies and pledges to end the epidemic by 2030.
  • The country actively promotes strategies like the Directly Observed Treatment Short-course (DOTS) to ensure people take their medications regularly, and invests in research and development of new diagnostic tools, drugs and vaccines.

Top things to do in South Africa for World Tuberculosis Day

  • Stay informed about tuberculosis and its symptoms.
  • Learn more about the history of tuberculosis and how doctors have worked to treat it.
  • Participate in walks or marathons: In some years, communities or organizations might arrange walks, runs, or marathons to raise awareness about TB.
  • Read a book to learn more about Tuberculosis in South Africa:
    TB: A History - by Helen Bynum
    Tuberculosis: A Comprehensive Clinical Reference - by H. Simon Schaaf and Alimuddin Zumla

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