Tuberculosis in Southeast AsiaTuberculosis is a bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This bacteria usually attacks the lungs, but TB can also affect any part of the body, including the kidneys, spine and brain. Tuberculosis is highly contagious and spreads through the air from person to person. It is most infectious when it is in a person’s lungs, not in their kidneys or other organs.

Southeast Asia’s Member States Goal to End TB by 2030

Worldwide, 10 million people contract TB annually, killing 1.6 million people. Tuberculosis in Southeast Asia accounts for 44 percent of cases and 50 percent of the deaths from this disease. This region only makes up a quarter of the world’s population.

In 2017, the WHO Southeast Asia Region’s Member States issued a call for action to accelerate the progress that is being made to exterminate tuberculosis around the globe. A year later in 2018, the same group released a Statement of Action to further increase these efforts.

To that end, domestic budgetary allocations have more than doubled. There has been a concerted effort in technology and medicines. The region has adopted a people-centered approach so that they can find more cases. For the first time, case finding has become a core focus, particularly in high-risk groups. Patient-centered policies are being implemented, including direct cash transfers and nutritional support for persons for tuberculosis. Governments are also including civil society organizations in decision making, and more people are joining the effort to combat TB as a result.

Further Efforts to Fight Tuberculosis in Southeast Asia

By 2020, at least 1.8 million tuberculosis-infected patients need to diagnosed and treated, 1.5 million of these should be children. Efforts are also being made to address the 500,000 people with drug-resistant TB. Overall, the plan is to ensure that 12 million people currently at risk receive preventative medicines and vaccines.

Adequate access to low-cost TB drugs via South-South cooperation is also an important policy objective. The goal is that more drugs will be produced with enhanced diagnostics so that more people can be reached.

These countries are working together to make great strides in ending tuberculosis in Southeast Asia. They are working with organizations, like WHO and USAID, to increase local advocacy and communications, to mobilize people to do their part. In Thailand, the Thailand TB Active Surveillance Network was established to strengthen the capacity to watch with outbreaks and cases throughout the region.

In addition, USAID has helped to strengthen regional-specific TB training modules, increasing infrastructure and training across the region so that more laboratories can be created and staffed.

Regional leaders have joined forces to combat tuberculosis in Southeast Asia, with the goal of ending preventable deaths. While there is still a long way to go, with the progress and action that the governments and their people are taking every day, the goal of ending tuberculosis in Southeast Asia by 2030 will be achieved.

– Michela Rahaim
Photo: Flickr

The U.S. along with 30 countries has announced a commitment to achieving the targets of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). Targets include responding to infectious disease threats and preventing epidemics.

The GHSA “seek[s] to accelerate progress toward a world that is safe and secure from infectious disease threats and to promote global health security as an international security priority,” said.

The Agenda was created in response to epidemic threats, such as ebola and seeks to promote global health and protect citizens around the world from life-threatening diseases.

The 30 countries that the U.S. has partnered with are: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Laos, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Pakistan, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, and Vietnam, as well as the Caribbean Community.

The commitment includes a five-year country roadmap that will detail practical plans for the GHSA.

“These roadmaps are intended to enable a better understanding across sectors and assistance providers of the specific milestones, next steps, and gaps toward achieving capacity needed to prevent, detect, and respond to biological threats,” the White House said in a press release.

The countries involved seek to collaborate on a global issue that impacts millions of people in developing areas. Infrastructure, equipment and skilled personnel are some of the resources that the GHSA partnership plans to provide.

During this year’s G-7 Summit in Germany, G-7 leaders committed to collectively assisting at least 60 countries, including the countries of West Africa, over the next five years. The G-7 Health Ministers agreed to announce these countries by the end of this year according to the White House.

This collaboration provides a bright spot for the future. Health security is a huge issue today, as infectious diseases kill over 17 million people a year. At least 30 new diseases have emerged in the last 20 years, and they all require attention and research in order for cures to be discovered according to the World Health Organization.

Next year’s GHSA event will be hosted by the Netherlands and will highlight progress and continue to build momentum on these issues.

Ashley Tressel

Sources: White House, WHO, Global Health
Photo: Flickr

Even though President Carter officially retired from political office with his defeat in the 1980 presidential election, he has not shied away from public life. The 39th President of the United States has dedicated his life to work toward alleviating human suffering, preventing conflicts, enhancing freedom and democracy, and improving health throughout the world. It is through his foundation, the Carter Center, that he has carried out his life’s work – and he has found much success in his endeavors.

The Carter Center, founded in 1982, is located in Carter’s home state of Georgia, near his presidential library in Atlanta. The nongovernmental organization has the mission to advance human rights and alleviate human suffering throughout the world. Throughout its history, the organization has partnered with other NGOs, businesses, and national and foreign governments to fulfill its international missions.

It has been successful in observing democratic elections throughout the world in the efforts to maintain peace. The organization has promoted democratic initiatives that empower governments in transitioning governments into building stronger democratic institutions and practices.

The Carter Center has also been involved in eliminating infectious diseases across the world. The organization has partnered with multiple international partners in order to eliminate trachoma, a bacterial infection spread by houseflies. Jimmy Carter’s interest in eradicating trachoma comes from his experiences with the infection during his youth.

Though the infection was eliminated in the United States in the 1970s, it is still prevalent in many countries in Africa and Asia. The Carter Center has distributed nearly 100 million doses of trachoma medicine called Zithromax into villages across Asia and Africa. Along with medicine distribution, the organization has pushed to improve water access, personal hygiene, and accessibility to antibiotics, which has led to reducing the effects of the disease in these regions.

Jimmy Carter’s work outside the Oval Office has been very noteworthy, and has garnered much respect from many other notable world leaders. In 2007, the late Nelson Mandela invited Carter to join his advocacy group of world leaders called “The Elders,” which also promoted human rights initiatives.

In recognition for his achievements in promoting peaceful resolution, improving health through disease eradication, and assisting in global democracy, President Carter was presented the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. This prize is just one of the many honors the former president has earned in recognition of his lifetime achievement in international improvement.

– Travis Whinery

Sources: Scientific America, Pharmtech, The Carter Center, The Sun Journal
Photo: Impeller