Date: 17 March 2021
Australia reports approximately 1300 cases of tuberculosis a year and has a TB case notification rate of 5.5 cases per 100,000 population.
This rate has essentially remained unchanged since the mid-1980s, although a slight increase in rates has been observed since 2003.
World Tuberculosis Day takes place on 24 March and is a day to build public awareness about the global epidemic of tuberculosis and efforts to eliminate the disease. This year’s theme is “The Clock is Ticking”.
The day is observed annually and commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus. At the time of Dr Koch's announcement in Berlin, tuberculosis was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one in seven people.
His discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing tuberculosis. However, today tuberculosis still causes the deaths of about 1.7 million people each year, mostly in developing countries.
TB is also often called the white plague because its sufferers appear so pale, and this symptom was associated with artistic sensitivity.
"Consumption" is another word used to describe TB because those affected seemed to waste away, apparently consumed from within.
According to the Stop TB Partnership, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has set back the global TB response by up to eight years. It also says that a child dies from the disease every two minutes.
TB is curable however speedy diagnosis and regular long-term drug therapy is essential.
World Tuberculosis Day is a reminder that TB is not a vanishing disease.
Contact: The Guild