March 24 was World TB Day. There are 300 new cases of tuberculosis reported in British Columbia every year. The number of new cases of TB (9.6 million in 2013) globally has exceeded HIV cases. With 1.5 million deaths annually, TB is the top infectious disease killer. It is important to know that TB is a disease primarily of those persons who are marginalized and living in poverty.
World TB Day is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly 1.5 million people each year, mostly in developing countries. It commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus.
At the time of Koch’s announcement in Berlin, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Koch’s discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB. It is important to note that TB is curable and preventable.
Michael Jessen, Nelson Volunteer Director, BC Lung Association