Millions of people struggle each year with tuberculosis (TB) and other lung diseases. At the end of 2008 there were more than 9 million people with TB, of which 1.4 million were co-infected with HIV.
On 4th of December 2009, 2010 was declared the year of the lung by the forum of the international respiratory societies, in recognition of the burden of disease caused by TB, asthma, pneumonia, influenza, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, which cumulatively cause more than 10 million deaths annually.
Evidence shows a range of deadly synergies between these diseases and HIV and AIDS. Part of the reason for the continued high burden of disease from TB is the low public health priority given to these diseases.
As the 41st Union World Conference on Lung Health gets underway in Berlin Germany, leaders have an opportunity to renew the commitment to tackle the increasing burden caused by TB, and support the newly launched global plan for TB from the World Health Organization (WHO). There is a need to respond to current challenges in the fight against TB. Newer TB diagnostics, including point of care tools for diagnosis need to be developed. Increased emphasis on innovative therapeutic methodologies for TB including newer and less toxic second line drugs for resistant mycobacterium is imperative.
To effectively combat TB and other lung diseases, the implementation of the international health treaty and collaborative HIV/TB activities needs to be scaled up. This requires increased partnerships between governments, communities, research, academic institutions and civil society. Greater involvement of the community in TB activities; including case finding, contact tracing, infection control in congregate settings and strategies to link TB to HIV testing and care are called for to enable communities to take more responsibility and ownership of the efforts to curb the TB/HIV epidemic.
Response to TB, HIV, malaria and other infectious diseases is one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As the year 2015 draws close, effective control of TB, which is one of the indicators for MDG 6, needs to be prioritised. See a summary of the MDGs below.
In order to achieve the objectives of MDG 6, scale up of integrated HIV and TB responses as well as evidence based interventions for other lung diseases is necessary, especially because of the increasing global burden of TB. Best practices in HIV/TB integration should be widely disseminated to TB and HIV programs globally. The International HIV/AIDS Alliance has developed a set of good practice standards for various HIV programming areas, including TB integration.
The Millennium Development Goals
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality.
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, malaria and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Create a global partnership for development with targets for aid, trade and debt relief