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WHO declares Tuberculosis – ‘An Emergency’ in Afrca

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Tuberculosis as an emergency in Africa. It is killing more than half a million people every year. WHO Regional // Committee for Africa comprising health ministers from 46 Member States has declared tuberculosis an emergency in the African region. The deaths have quadrupled in the last few years.

A resolution was adopted today at the end of the Committee's fifty-fifth session in Maputo, Mozambique. The resolution wishes Member States in the African Region to commit more human and financial resources to strengthen DOTS programmes to fight the co-epidemic of TB and HIV. It will require US $2.2 billion in for TB control in Africa during 2006-2007.

"Despite commendable efforts by countries and partners to control tuberculosis, impact on incidence has not been significant and the epidemic has now reached unprecedented proportions,” said WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo. “Urgent and extraordinary actions must be taken, or else the situation will only get worse and the TB targets in the Abuja Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals will not be achieved."

TB is second only to HIV/AIDS as a cause of illness and death of adults in the world and is responsible for nearly nine million cases of active disease and two million deaths every year. Africa has only 11% of the world's population but it accounts for more than a quarter of this global burden with an estimated 2.4 million TB cases and 540,000 TB deaths annually.

The four –fold increase is also due to the link between HIV and TB. Patients who are inflicted with HIV may see reactivation of TB in their system.

Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former South African President Nelson Mandela are survivors of the disease. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: "It is tragic that this disease has not been brought under control, because I am living proof that TB can be effectively treated and
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