African countries should join hands and invest in high-impact interventions to achieve the goal of eliminating tuberculosis (TB) by 2030, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Saturday ahead of World Tuberculosis Day, which falls on March 24 every year.

Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa, said it is possible to reduce Africa’s high TB burden substantially once governments, industry, and donor partners invest in new diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics.

In Africa, TB continues to be the second leading cause of death from a single infectious agent, surpassing the toll of HIV and AIDS, Moeti noted, adding that in 2022, about 2.5 million people on the continent contracted the disease, equivalent to one person every 13 seconds.

“Additionally, the number of TB deaths in 2022 reached 424,000, resulting in the loss of one life every minute even when TB is preventable and treatable,” Moeti said in a statement issued in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

“These figures underscore the urgency of our collective action in addressing the ongoing TB epidemic and highlight the need for sustained efforts to end it,” Moeti said, adding that the WHO African Region has provided strategic direction and monitoring tools, such as the African TB Scorecard, to accelerate progress toward eliminating the highly infectious lung disease.

This year’s World Tuberculosis Day, themed “Yes! We can end TB!” aims to reinvigorate awareness campaigns to eradicate the bacterial disease, which is fueled by pollution, overcrowding, and poverty.

Moeti said sharing knowledge and best practices on effective TB control, easy access to rapid diagnostics, and regional cooperation will be key to ensuring that the disease is no longer a public health threat in Africa.

She hailed significant progress in the fight against TB in Africa, where a 38 percent reduction in deaths was achieved between 2015 and 2022, while the continent saw a 23 percent reduction in new cases over the same period.

Moeti said action on multidrug-resistant TB, intensified surveillance, adequate funding, research, community engagement, and strengthening health systems will be key to eliminating TB in Africa. — Xinhua

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