From the 1982 24 March is commemorated as the World Tuberculosis Day. The date chosen by the World Health Organization (WHO) recalls the scientific discovery of Dr Robert Koch. On this date, the German scientist discovered the bacterium that causes tuberculosis, paving the way for the diagnosis and treatment of this disease.
In 2019 alone, 10 million tuberculosis patients worldwide and 1,4 million died. Tuberculosis is confirmed as one of the most lethal diseases, for which a joint global effort is needed. It is no coincidence that this year's theme of the World Tuberculosis Day, promoted by the WHO, is "The clock is ticking", "Time is running out" to fight this disease, especially in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic. World Friends joins the WHO call to end tuberculosis.
World Tuberculosis Day during the pandemic
According to WHO data, tuberculosis kills 4.000 people every day and makes nearly 28.000 sick. However, global efforts since 2000 have saved some 63 million lives. However the COVID-19 pandemic risks abruptly curbing the fight against tuberculosis.
COVID-19 has forced entire countries into lockdown, severely affecting the local economy. Communities, such as those of slums of Nairobi, were hit by the Coronavirus with a double impact: the already scarce resources available have been dedicated exclusively to the fight against the pandemic, leaving the most vulnerable populations exposed to endemic diseases such as tuberculosis.
The COVID-19 experience has demonstrated an incredible commitment by the global scientific community to improve vaccine diagnosis and production. This type of innovation cannot be available to a few and above all it must not be limited to the fight against the pandemic. Highly infectious diseases such as tuberculosis require a continuous and shared commitment. The work that is being carried out to combat the Coronavirus must continue for the general improvement of health systems and for the fight against infectious diseases such as tuberculosis that mainly affect low-income countries.
World Friends' commitment on World Tuberculosis Day
On World Tuberculosis Day, World Friends joined forces with various partners to organize a day of activities to raise awareness among the people of Kajiado. The event is
been organized together with USAID, Talaku Community, Amref Health Africa and the Ministry of the Health of Kenya. The event started with a march to Oltepesi to involve and sensitize the local population. Also a service screening methods for tuberculosis it was offered to local residents at the Oltepesi Health Center.
The commitment of World Friends for the fight against tuberculosis is also concentrated in the urban area of the slums of Nairobi with the project HIPS-TB. This project aims to raise awareness among people at risk, for facilitate the detection, diagnosis and treatment of cases of tuberculosis. The goal is pursued thanks to the collaboration with 18 private health structures and the public sector.
The trained staff is in charge of the screening methods of patients, the collection of saliva samples, the digitization of data and the issue of vouchers to subjects with suspicious symptoms for diagnostic tests at the laboratories of Ruaraka Uhai Neema Hospital or Mathare North Health Center. The samples are collected and transported with a motorized system, able to reach even the most remote areas of slums. GeneXpert diagnostic tests are carried out in the reference facilities: if the collected samples are positive, the patient will be referred to one of the treatment facilities and enrolled in a tuberculosis clinic.
The project is also close to its launch ATI-TB, financed byItalian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) through the 5% initiative AICS / Global Fund, with the general objective of contribute to the elimination of new cases of tuberculosis in Kajiado County in Kenya. The project includes a innovative approach for which the element of novelty lies in theunion between tradition and innovation. The tradition is understood as the active involvement of traditional healers and village authorities in the project, who represent the first contact and are reference figures for most of the target population in the area. A local problem, tuberculosis, which is therefore addressed by enhancing a global innovation, the GeneXpert Omni technology and at the same time enhancing the particularity and specificity of an ethnic group and its identity.
World Friends is convinced of the importance of commemorating World Tuberculosis Day today, because it is a unique opportunity to raise awareness and inform public opinion, but our commitment to end this disease continues 365 days a year!