More than 900 physicians, scientists and researchers confronting tuberculosis across communities in the United States and around the world have signed a letter urging U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley to ensure that the September UN General Assembly High Level Meeting Ending Tuberculosis leads to concrete commitments aimed at eliminating the impacts of the world’s leading infectious disease killer.
Tuberculosis killed 1.7 million people in 2016 while 10.4 million – including one million children – fell ill from TB. More than 600,000 people became infected with the form of the disease resistant to the most effective first-line drug, and almost 500,000 of those patients are infected with tuberculosis that is resistant to multiple drugs, with just one in nine of those successfully treated. Four million people living with active TB disease continue to go undiagnosed, untreated, and remain infectious.
The letter asks Amb. Haley to provide input for a political declaration, the document summarizing member states’ agreements towards collaborative action formalized at the meeting, that includes international commitments to increase resources and efforts to prevent, detect, treat, cure and control the spread of tuberculosis worldwide. The letters’ signers, who include leaders of public health and research programs worldwide, cite needs for expanded and specific commitments to address multi-drug resistant TB, invest in TB research and development for new vaccines, diagnostics and treatments and to strengthen screening and linkages to treatment and care.
The letter was initiated by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, with support from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the American Thoracic Society and Treatment Action Group.