24 March commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of the bacterium which causes the tuberculosis disease, TB bacillus. Without his impassioned and convincing presentation, TB would have continued to ravage populations in Europe and America. His announcement marked a turning point in the treatment of virulent human infectious diseases.
World Tuberculosis Day is one of only eleven global public health campaigns officially recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), along with significant global events like World Health Day (7 April) and World AIDS Day (1 December). Tuberculosis continues to effect disastrous social and health inequity, especially in lower-income countries which are also facing other chronic epidemics, like HIV/AIDS. Because of this, World Tuberculosis Day is an essential campaign that generates critical support for the efforts to eliminate this disease.
Global efforts to combat the disease have saved approximately 66 million lives since 2000. Sadly, our collective progress has been severely hampered by the onset of COVID-19. For the first time in over a decade, the TB death rate went on the rise in 2020. To protect our progress in eliminating this disease, and to ensure that everyone has equitable access to methods of prevention and care, we urgently need effective investment in our efforts to develop a cure. That’s why the WHO has determined that the theme for World Tuberculosis Day 2022 is “Invest to End TB. Save Lives.”
Without our brave nurses, who have battled the epidemic of tuberculosis at the frontlines for as long as the disease has afflicted global populations, we would make no progress at all. This World Tuberculosis Day, we would like to echo the WHO’s call for investment in TB prevention, but we would also like to acknowledge the tireless work of our nurses in caring for and educating patients about TB.