Another 1.5 Million lives Worldwide will be taken by tuberculosis this year (2016).
According to a report from the World Health Organization, tuberculosis has surpassed HIV as the leading cause of death from an infectious disease since 2014. As a reference, more than 1000 residents including infants are already infected with TB (tuberculosis) in California on April 5th, 2016. Moreover, Vietnam is running out of funds to fight tuberculosis since the 28th of March, which was important enough for the New York Times to consider this serious incident as the main cover. These two incidents remind us of the war against tuberculosis is still an on-going battle.
What’s going on in Vietnam?
The biggest threat in Vietnam is the absence of financial support.
Twenty-five years ago, due to prolific poverty and a heavy-handed government, Vietnam had nearly 600 cases of tuberculosis for every 100,000 residents and had to suffer desperately over the years. However, because of the great continuous effort attempted by the Vietnamese government, the number of cases has been down to less than 200. Along with these efforts, the Vietnamese government accomplished a 90 percent cure rate for uncomplicated tuberculosis and 75 percent of its more resistant cases, which surprisingly beat the global average of 50 percent.
Vietnam has set another ambitious goal of lowering the prevalence rate to 20 cases per 100,000, which essentially links to tuberculosis (TB) as a public health problem. In order to implement this bold goal Vietnam needs to spend at least 66 million USD a year, but they are unfortunately capable of spending about only 26 million USD for this year, and nearly 19 million USD of the current financial support comes from foreign donors, from this more than one-third of the support comes from the United States. Therefore, if the United States decides either not to fund anymore or to lower the funds in the future, Vietnam will, most likely, face a serious consequence and won’t be able to accomplish their ambitious goal.
Along with their high dependence from financial support from foreign countries, Vietnam’s fascinating accomplishments of preventing tuberculosis are very fragile because hospital wards in Vietnam are packed to their limits. This raises the risks of drug-resistant strains to easily spread out. Therefore, Vietnam is in serious need of financial support to fund their fight against this disease.
The current stage against tuberculosis(TB)
As shown above, tuberculosis has become the most serious virus since 2014 and the impact it has surpassed the impact of HIV. Worldwide, the mortality caused by both HIV and tuberculosis has been dropping year by year, but the number of deaths by tuberculosis has decreased more slowly than HIV’s, especially in Asia. According to a report by the World Health Organization, there were close to 10 million new cases of the diseases and 1.5 million deaths in 2015. Additionally, more than 4 thousand people are dying every day from tuberculosis.
The 20th Annual Tuberculosis Report shows that the incidence of tuberculosis has been reduced annually since the 1990s with great effort from the global health organizations and all countries across the globe. However, the threat remains.
WHO is calling on countries and partners to “unite to end tuberculosis”
Millennium Development Goals planned by the United Nation had a great impact worldwide in reducing the number of incidences. Furthermore, from 2000 to 2014 almost 43 million lives were saved because of better diagnosis and treatment. A US initiative, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to end tuberculosis by 2030 as an intergovernmental set of aspiration goals with 169 targets. The specific goal is to reduce tuberculosis deaths by 90 percent and tuberculosis cases by 80 percent by 2030. To achieve this ambitious goal, better tracking systems are required to be available at any time and any place on a global scale. Even though enough funds come from many nations to implement the program, tuberculosis has become resistant to the existing drugs used to treat it as a future cure.
We all live in a world where boundaries between nations are shrinking and becoming more interrelated with one and other as a financial crisis from one country can impact the whole world. Therefore, we need to keep our eyes on the situation in Vietnam and should not treat this incident as a separate concern of a foreign country. Who knows how tuberculosis would impact our world once again like what happened before in the 1900s.
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