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Louder Than TB: TB Alliance joins health leaders to call attention to burden of childhood TB

Working together, we can give voice to the voiceless

March 23, 2016

On the occasion of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, global health leaders from the “Louder Than TB Coalition” have come together today to launch a new campaign called “Louder Than TB.”  

The Louder Than TB campaign brings together leading organizations from the public and private sectors and media to raise the profile of tuberculosis and improve global awareness of the disease, and, just as critically, of the costs of ignoring it.

TB is now the leading infectious disease killer in the world alongside HIV/AIDS. However, given the burden of TB and the cycle of illness and poverty it perpetuates, TB has been relatively neglected on the global stage—especially when it comes to children, its most vulnerable targets.

“Ending TB by 2030 is a target of the Sustainable Development Goals and the WHO End TB Strategy,” says Dr. Mario Raviglione, Director of the Global TB Programme of the World Health Organization. “We cannot reach this goal if we leave children behind.”

Worldwide, nearly 10 million people get sick with TB every year and 1.5 million of them die as a result. For children, TB has been a most notable silent killer. Every day, nearly 400 children die needlessly from TB – a disease that is preventable and curable. Last year, 1 million children became ill with TB. At least 53 million healthy children are now infected with the bacteria that causes TB. If they do not access preventive treatment, they can become sick at any time.

“TB predominately strikes people who live in poverty and who do not have the ability to make their voices heard,” UN Special Envoy on Tuberculosis Eric Goosby stated. “Louder Than TB will help give voice to the voiceless and draw more attention to the need to end this disease by 2030.”

The disease, even in its active form, is often hidden in plain sight. More than two-thirds (64%) of children are never diagnosed or treated in the public sector, and therefore, don’t access they quality treatment they need.

Ignoring TB has potentially catastrophic costs as undiagnosed and untreated TB can lead to the development of drug-resistant TB, which is deadly, more expensive to treat, and already a major public health threat in many settings.

Relative to the burden of the disease, investment in TB is grossly underfunded. A fully funded Global Plan to End TB 2016-2020 would require US $65 billion, out of which US $56 billion is needed to implement TB programmes. Another US $9 billion is needed to fund research and development for new tools. Investment for implementation must be aggressively front-loaded, peaking at US $12.3 billion globally in 2018.

“We need to double the current investment in TB,” says Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership. “But it goes beyond the funds—there must be a dramatic improvement in the global response to finding children and families with TB and ensuring they get the care they need.”

The Louder Than TB campaign is promoting the need for better awareness of TB at all levels of the health system; improving cross-sector collaboration at the country level to better diagnose and treat TB and integrate TB care into maternal and childhood care and other services; and catalyzing further investment in the research needed to improve TB drugs, diagnostic tools and vaccines.  

This World TB Day, countries and partners are uniting to wipe out this top infectious disease killer. The Louder Than TB coalition includes the Stop TB Partnership, TB Alliance, UNICEF, UNITAID, the World Health Organization, Action, Advance Access & Delivery, Aeras, amfAR, A Promise Renewed; Citizen News Service, CORE Group, Desmond Tutu TB Centre, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, EDCTP, Every Breath Counts, FCB Health, Global Health Technologies Coalition, Global TB Program at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, ICAP, International Federation of the Red Cross, Irish Aid, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Kick TB, ONE, Operation ASHA, Policy Cures, PSI, Results, Save the Children, Sentinel Project, Speak Up Africa, the Global Fund, Treatment Action Group, Vital Strategies, World Bank, World Vision and many others. Please visit LouderThanTB.org for the complete listing of Coalition partners.

 

About the Louder Than TB Coalition:

The Louder than TB Coalition is a group of global health organizations that are coming together to put a spotlight on TB with a goal of raising awareness, resources and integration into comprehensive global health systems. To find out more, please visit www.LouderThanTB.org.

 

For more information or to join the Louder Than TB campaign, please e-mail info@LouderThanTB.org