World Tuberculosis Day is observed on 24 March each year to fight tuberculosis and eradicate this deadly disease that has been claiming millions of lives. Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious, airborne disease that mainly affects your lungs. The disease is caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium. World TB Day is one of eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunization Week, World Malaria Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Hepatitis Day and World AIDS Day. The 2018 theme for World Tuberculosis Day is “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-Free World. We can make history. End TB” – which highlights the importance of engaging people from all across the world to put efforts to eliminate TB.

What is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis is a deadly infectious disease that claims more than 1.7 million lives every year all over the world. India contributes to about 25% of these deaths due to the lack of safe conditions as well as basic amenities. TB has been feared mainly for its extremely contagious nature which puts people around a patient at risk if not treated well. The observation of World Tuberculosis Day began as an effort to discuss the infectious disease and come up with a solution for the eradication of TB from the world. As we observe this day on March 24, 2018, here is everything you need to know about World Tuberculosis Day and its significance.

How does Tuberculosis spread?

TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected. About one-third of the world’s population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not yet ill with the disease and cannot transmit the disease. When a person develops active TB, the symptoms (cough, fever, night sweats, weight loss etc.) may be mild for many months. This can lead to delays in seeking care and results in the transmission of the bacteria to others. People ill with TB can infect up to 10-15 other people through close contact over the course of a year. Without proper treatment up to two-thirds of people ill with TB will die.

How is Tuberculosis treated?

Since 2000, 53 million lives have been saved through effective diagnosis and treatment. Active, drug-sensitive TB disease is treated with a standard 6-month course of 4 antimicrobial drugs that are provided with information, supervision and support to the patient by a health worker or trained volunteer. The vast majority of TB cases can be cured when medicines are provided and taken properly.

How is World TB Day celebrated?

The aim of the World Health Organisation has been to make people more aware of the signs and symptoms of TB and how to curb the disease. It is celebrated every year by the health organizations, NGOs, government and non-government organizations including other health agencies to raise the awareness among common public all across the world about the epidemic disease, tuberculosis by organizing the variety of campaign-related activities such as debates on TB prevention and cure, award ceremonies for the organizations involved in the prevention and fight against TB.