World Tuberculosis Day

World Tuberculosis Day

World Tuberculosis Day is a holiday observed every year on March 24th. Not only does this date commemorates the discovery of tuberculosis (TB), but the primary purpose of the holiday is to increase awareness about the infectious disease as well as treatment measures to help prevent its spread and related deaths. While not a public holiday, the celebrations are crucial to the education, and hopefully the eventual elimination of this deadly disease. Due to the worldwide prevalence of TB, World Tuberculosis Day is observed in several different countries every year.

Tuberculosis Defined

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease of the lungs. It is spread from person to person through extremely contagious bacteria. While direct contact can spread the disease, droplets from coughs and sneezes can also transmit TB through the shared airspaces.

People contract numerous other types of infections every year that are treated with antibiotics. What makes TB so dangerous, however, is the fact that the disease is often resistant to medications. Some patients respond to antibiotics, while others with the worst strains may be hospitalized. This is why tuberculosis is often considered deadly.  BCG vaccines are often required in infants to help minimize the effects of tuberculosis that may be caught during childhood. The downside is that this type of vaccine is not 100-percent effective, and it does not work in adults.

History

Tuberculosis was originally discovered by Dr. Robert Koch on March 24, 1882. This was also the date in which Dr. Koch announced his findings of the bacterial cause of the disease to the world in Berlin, Germany. During this time, TB was running rampant in both Europe and the United States.

Since its discovery, TB tends to strike communities in waves. During the time that Dr. Koch made his announcement, tuberculosis cases were high in western nations, but this wouldn’t be the last. During the 1970s and 1980s, there were in influx of cases in the United States, some of which were related to decreased immunity in patients with HIV. Such cases tapered off in 1993 with increased awareness. According to the World Health Organization, the majority of the world’s TB cases are currently found in Africa and Southeast Asia.

Since tuberculosis is difficult to treat, the best way to protect people from infections is to prevent its spread. In 1982, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease proposed the idea of a World Tuberculosis Day. The World Health Organization backed this idea up to help promote efforts to fight the disease. March 24th was the date chosen in order to commemorate Dr. Koch’s findings a century earlier.

Celebrations

This holiday is celebrated in numerous ways. Organizers primarily utilize the day to educate the public about TB, as well as ways to help keep themselves healthy. In regions where healthcare access is limited, communities may increase awareness about the importance of seeking treatment. Charity events are also common to raise funds for research.

World Tuberculosis Day is celebrated by numerous countries. It is also sponsored by the World Health Organization. This is extremely helpful in raising awareness, since this entity has the resources to reach people in all parts of the world, rather than just one single region.

Considerations in 2013

In 2013, the slogan for World Tuberculosis Day is “Stop TB in my lifetime.” This is the second year of a related campaign that aims to raise awareness and action to help stop tuberculosis-related deaths. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control says that technology has made it possible to detect tuberculosis so early treatment is possible. It is up to people to spread the word about these treatments to help prevent the spread of TB throughout communities. The previous slogan for 2011 and 2012 was “Innovation,” primarily pertaining to awareness about TB vaccines.