Despite being preventable and treatable, tuberculosis (TB) remains a deadly disease, often outsmarting the drugs commonly used to treat it and affecting millions worldwide. Globally, nearly 4,400 people lose their lives to TB each day – totaling nearly 1.6 million deaths each year. There were 10.6 million active TB infections in 2021 alone. Additionally, TB can have deadly consequences for certain populations, including people living with HIV and children.
Over the last three years, TB efforts have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening hard-fought gains made over the last several years. Because of this threat, we currently stand at a critical juncture. We have the tools and resources to end TB – but must take immediate and effective action to change the course of the epidemic and finally make TB history.
To address this serious global issue, CDC joined Heads of State in New York on September 22nd, 2023, for the United Nations (UN) General Assembly’s High-Level Meeting (UNHLM) on Tuberculosis to revisit the global targets established during the inaugural UNHLM on Tuberculosis in 2018 and signed a political declaration that reaffirms global commitments to end TB by 2030.
Each year, TB affects over 1 million children, yet nearly 60% of these cases go undiagnosed, untreated, or underreported.
Magnificent is his mother’s only son and his little sister’s only sibling. At 24, he has been the man of the house since his father died ten years ago. If you ask him about his dreams, he will tell you they are for his family. “I want to take care of my mother,” he says, “I want my sister to finish school.”
At 19, Magnificent survived the often deadly multidrug-resistant TB thanks to the treatment he received in a CDC-supported health facility that specializes in fighting drug resistance. He is now living a healthy life and pursuing his dreams of becoming an engineer and looking after his family. Thom Pierce 2018
When he was 19 years old and a college engineering student, Magnificent contracted TB after visiting his uncle in the hospital. The doctors gave him medicine, but he felt better shortly after and stopped taking the pills. But then the cough returned. And after the cough, the loss of appetite, the trouble breathing, and a terrifying weight loss. He went to the local TB hospital where he met Khaya, a CDC-supported nurse and one of the country’s champions in the fight against drug resistant TB. She told him he had developed the much deadlier, multi-drug resistant TB, and would not be returning home.
For months he remained in isolation, enduring a daily and toxic cocktail of drugs and injections that had severe side effects. As TB is also the number one killer of people living with HIV, he was tested for the virus and found to be negative. Finally, after nine months, he was cured. The ordeal has changed him. “I didn’t know if I would live or die. If you could collect all the tears I cried during that time, it would measure a gallon,” he recalls. Today, he is channeling his struggle into advocacy, traveling the country to educate others about the threat of drug resistant TB. And he’s dreaming again.
“I have my life back,” he says, “I can watch my little sister grow up.”
The Path Forward
To end TB, the global community must continue to work together to fight this epidemic on multiple fronts to stop the suffering associated with this disease, here at home and around the world. The United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB provided a unique and timely opportunity for the global community to gather and reaffirm commitments to address this epidemic, as well as assess progress towards previously established goals. The commitments made during this event put us on a path to eliminating TB as a global health threat and showcase the power of global partnerships.
At CDC, we’re on the frontlines in more than 25 high-burden countries working with partner governments to find, cure, and prevent TB and help sustain country efforts. CDC’s longstanding efforts in addressing TB are not only transforming countries but saving countless individual lives.