World TB Day

In 1882, a German physician and scientist, Robert Koch, while utilizing a new staining method, applied it to the sputum specimen of tuberculosis patients and revealed for the first time the causal agent of the disease: Mycobacterium tuberculosis. He made his result public at the Physiological Society of Berlin on 24 March 1882, in a famous lecture entitled Über Tuberculose, which was published three weeks later. Since 1982, 24 March has been known as World Tuberculosis Day.

The earliest unambiguous detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis is in the remains of human ancestors dated 18 000 years ago. Currently, about one third of the world’s population is infected with TB.

Drug-resistant TB

With inappropriate use of medicines, drug-resistant forms of TB have emerged. MDR-TB, where TB is resistant to the two most potent drugs, is a major concern. Annually there are estimated to be 440 000 patients with multi drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) patients in the world, of which 81 000 MDR-TB of them are estimated to be in the WHO European region (20% of the global burden).

Project and plan

In response to the alarming problem of MDR-TB and Extensively drug resistant Tuberculosis (XDR-TB) in the Region, the WHO Regional office for Europe has established a special project to prevent and combat M/XDR-TB.  In order to scale up the comprehensive response and to work towards the prevention and control of M/XDR-TB, a Consolidated Action Plan is being developed for 2011 to 2015 as a road map for Member States, WHO/Europe and partners. The Plan is being prepared in Region-wide consultation with experts, patients and communities suffering from the disease.

We solicit your suggestions and comments on the Plan (www.TBcoalition.eu). The Consolidated Action Plan will be submitted for endorsement by the WHO Regional Committee for Europe in Baku, Azerbaijan, in September 2011, along with an accompanying resolution.

On the move against TB

Ambitious targets set by the Global Plan to Stop TB 2011-2015 were launched by the Stop TB Partnership in October 2010, as inspiration to transform the fight towards the elimination of TB. Together with the partners actively involved in development of new and effective vaccine against TB, new rapid TB diagnostics tests, faster and effective treatment of TB, WHO / Europe is assisting Member States make quality services available for the people that need them.