Every year, March 24 is celebrated as World Tuberculosis Day. A day established to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of tuberculosis (TB) and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic.
Historically, the date marks the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB, which opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease.
According to the report on tuberculosis in the world published in 2022 by WHO, an estimated
10.6 million people developed the disease in 2021, an increase of 4.5% compared to 2020 and that 1.6 million people died (including 187,000 HIV-positive people).
In Burundi, the Ministry of Public Health and the Fight against HIV/Aids draws up a more than flattering assessment. In a statement released on March 24, the said ministry reviews the situation of tuberculosis in Burundi. Regarding drug-resistant tuberculosis, 46 people were diagnosed with this rustic form. The ministry is delighted with the step already taken, indicating that Burundi is on the right track for the eradication of the disease. The ministry adds by saying that on a target recovery rate of 90%, the recovery rate in Burundi is 95%.
However, 48% of tuberculosis cases are not actually diagnosed. In children, the country records a detection rate of 4% for a target of 10 to 15% for low-income countries. In addition, the detection of tuberculosis drug resistance is low with 19% of expected cases being diagnosed.
These challenges are not insurmountable, indeed every cloud has a silver lining. Sustained efforts will have to be made, particularly on detection using new technologies for the diagnosis of tuberculosis, with the greater involvement of community actors for a multisectoral response to take into account the social determinants of tuberculosis.
A cough exceeding a duration of 2 weeks should prompt a visit to the doctor. To paraphrase the 2023 theme, “Yes, we can end tuberculosis” but it will require a multilevel cooperation.