On March 19th, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio introduced S.Res. 437 to the Senate, which is a resolution that seeks to affirm the U.S. fight against tuberculosis and guarantee support of World Tuberculosis Day, while also trying to increase general awareness of the disease.
Extent of Tuberculosis
The resolution shares several alarming statistics about tuberculosis from 2016, and the extent to which the disease affected people that year:
- The World Health Organization (WHO) assessed that 10.4 million became infected with tuberculosis.
- Around 1.7 million people lost their lives that year due to the illness.
- Around the world, one million children became infected with the disease, and 250,000 lost their lives because of it.
- Among HIV-negative people, tuberculosis was believed to cause 80 percent of deaths in both Africa and South Asia, and 33 percent of deaths occurred in India.
- Currently, the resolution states that a quarter of the world’s entire population is infected with tuberculosis.
In an article about World Tuberculosis Day 2018, WHO stated that tuberculosis is the most prevalent in people who live in poverty, marginalized communities and otherwise vulnerable groups.
Goals for World Tuberculosis Day
The introduction of this resolution to the Senate indicates that the U.S. will continue its efforts to fight against the disease. The resolution has three specific aims:
- To support World Tuberculosis Day and continue to raise awareness about the disease.
- To applaud the efforts of various organizations to fight against tuberculosis; for instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
- A general goal to increase the role of the U.S. as a leader in the fight against the disease, and to continue to improve the overall global response to this issue.
The U.S. has already made an important impact in fighting tuberculosis: “USAID remains committed to saving millions of lives by ending the tuberculosis epidemic by 2030,” wrote USAID Administrator Mark Green in a statement released on World Tuberculosis Day.
United State’s Role in Fighting the Disease
Green also pointed out in his statement that the effects of tuberculosis are not just physical. It is also harmful in terms of a country’s economy, because those affected by the disease can lose three to four months of work, and subsequently over one-fourth of their income while fighting the disease.
The Senate resolution notes that USAID currently assists 23 countries with high rates of tuberculosis by providing support in the form of financial and technical aid. This aid is used to pursue the creation of new tools to both detect and treat the disease; it is also applied towards research for vaccines.
A Goal of Eradication
Since 2000, the assistance and funding from USAID and the U.S. more broadly has resulted in a decrease in the incidence of tuberculosis by one-fifth. However, despite the progress being made to eliminate the disease, the high rates of infection and death among people living in poverty makes tuberculosis the top infectious-disease that leads to death around the world.
This resolution is an important declaration that the U.S. will continue to raise awareness of tuberculosis, and pursue the ultimate goal of permanently eradicating the disease.
– Jennifer Jones