Global meet on lung diseases holds significance for India भारत की टी.बी. से जंग को नयी दिशा मिलने की सम्भावना

Global meet on lung diseases holds significance for India भारत की टी.बी. से जंग को नयी दिशा मिलने की सम्भावना

A global conference on lung health, with special focus on tuberculosis or TB, is being organised in Cape Town. It holds special significance for India where largest number of TB cases in the world were recorded last year, writes Aarti Dhar


ver 3,000 researchers and experts from 125 countries will gather at Cape Town (South Africa) this week to attend the 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health which will define the course of action in the years to come to effectively deal with tuberculosis. Building global awareness and support are key efforts to address TB which kills 1.5 million people every year and is one of he oldest diseases known to affect humans, yet it remains little known and understood in many parts of the world.

In 2014, TB killed 1.5 million people (1.1 million HIV-negative and 0.4 million HIV positive). The toll comprised 890,000 men, 480,000 women and 140,000 children. Tuberculosis now ranks alongside HIV as a leading cause of death worldwide. HIV’s death toll in 2014 was estimated to be 1.2 million, which included 0.4 million TB deaths among HIV positive people.  Globally, 9.6 million people are estimated to have fallen ill with TB in 2014 of which 12 per cent new TB cases were HIV positive, according to the Global Tuberculosis Report, 2015.

According to the same report, India recorded the largest number of Tuberculosis cases in the world last year. Of the 9.6 million new TB case, 58 per cent were in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions. India, Indonesia and China had the largest number of cases at 23 per cent,  10 per cent each respectively.


The report added that of the 480,000 cases of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) estimated to have occurred in 2014, only a quarter of these 123,000 were detected and reported. If all of the TB cases notified in 2014 had been tested for drug resistance, an estimated 300,000 would have been found to have MDR-TB, with more than half of them (54 per cent) occurring in India, China and the Russian Federation.

The theme of the conference, being organised by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), between December 2 and 6, is “A New Agenda: Lung Health Beyond 2015” which reflects the changing landscape of global public health, and the new era of action that will define the years ahead. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) reach their deadline at the end of 2015, and the work will begin on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the new Post-2015 Development Agenda. In addition, the World Health Organisation’s new Global ”End TB” Strategy will enter its final year of implementation, while the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Plan to Stop TB will shift into its next phase, 2016-2020.

The world has made several advances in TB control. Tuberculosis mortality has fallen 47 per cent since 1990, with nearly all of that improvement taking place since 2000, when the MDGs were set. In all, effective diagnosis and treatment of TB saved an estimated 43 million lives between 2000 and 2014.


From 2016, the goal is to end the global TB epidemic by implementing the End TB Strategy. Adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2014 and with targets linked to the newly adopted SDGs, the strategy serves as a blueprint for countries to reduce the number of TB deaths by 90 per cent by 2030 (compared with 2015 levels), cut new cases by 80% and ensure that no family is burdened with catastrophic costs due to TB.

The five-day scientific programme at Cape Town will also address how these new agendas will influence the inter-related fights against tuberculosis, HIV, lung disease and non-communicable diseases, as well as the global campaign for tobacco control. It will convene leaders from around the world and identify solutions for achieving success in the post-2015 era of global health and development. The Conference is a premier global meet for researchers, health programme managers, policy experts, advocates and other leaders working to address tuberculosis and other global health issues affecting people living in poverty.

“The Union World Conference on Lung Health is the place where those of us working to alleviate suffering from tuberculosis and other deadly lung diseases gather to share the latest research and the most recent discoveries from the field”, says Dr E Jane Carter, President of The Union. “With 2015 approaching and ushering in a new agenda for global health and international development, this will be The Union’s most important World Conference to date.”

“It came as a huge shock to me to discover the real danger that the TB pandemic represents to us all. It is necessary to act and act now”, said Emma Thompson, the award-winning actor who this year became the TB Ambassador for the City of London. Ms Thompson was personally affected by tuberculosis and its grueling treatment process when her son was diagnosed with TB.

The Union World Conference on Lung Health inspires collaboration and networking among the experts, healthcare workers and civil society members on the ground who are integral to advancing the research and treating those in need. At the government level, the Global TB Summit brings elected representatives together to use their influence and leadership to demand more effective action against tuberculosis from governments to support those advances and extend their reach.

Aarti Dhar is a Delhi-based senior journalist who has covered a variety of social, developmental and political issues, which includes over two-decade-long association with The Hindu as Deputy Editor

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