World TB Day, falling on March 24th each year, is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries. It commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus. At the time of Koch’s announcement in Berlin, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Koch’s discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB.
This year, we commemorate the 135th anniversary of Dr Robert Koch’s announcement in 1882 of his discovery of the TB bacillus, the cause of tuberculosis. His groundbreaking research opened the way toward diagnosing and curing this disease.
World TB Day is an opportunity for people everywhere to join this fight by helping to educate others about TB and by urging governments to take action.
- Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.
- In 2015, 10.4 million people fell ill with TB and 1.8 million died from the disease (including 0.4 million among people with HIV). Over 95% of TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
- Six countries account for 60% of the total, with India leading the count, followed by Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa.
- In 2015, an estimated 1 million children became ill with TB and 170 000 children died of TB (excluding children with HIV).
- TB is a leading killer of HIV-positive people: in 2015, 35% of HIV deaths were due to TB.
- Globally in 2015, an estimated 480 000 people developed multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).
- TB incidence has fallen by an average of 1.5% per year since 2000. This needs to accelerate to a 4–5% annual decline to reach the 2020 milestones of the “End TB Strategy”.
- An estimated 49 million lives were saved through TB diagnosis and treatment between 2000 and 2015.
- Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is among the health targets of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals.