Endalkachew Fekadu (@etPharmanet) lives in Addis Ababa. He's a pharmacist, a drug-resistant TB survivor, and the Founder and Managing Director of the Ethiopian Drug Information Network/ Pharmanet Magz. Read more about his fight against drug-resistant TB here.
Almost all world populations celebrate a day at least once in a year. It may be a holiday, or commemorative days used by various governments, groups, and organizations to raise awareness of an issue.
In just a few days, we will celebrate World TB Day on March 24th. This day has always prompted us both to celebrate our progress against TB, and to step outside the day-to-day living we're always so busy with, and reflect, take stock, assess how we did, and resolve to do better going forward.
I, Endy, survivor of multi drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), invite you to the party!
I hope you won't say "No" because this is an invitation from me on behalf of the 3 million patients who get sick with TB every year, but don't get the care they need. A few years back, I was a bed-ridden MDR-TB patient who missed class for more than two years. During that time, many life-saving TB medications were not available in Ethiopia, and people with TB were isolated in a small room to wait for their death due to the expensive price of tuberculosis drugs.
I too would have died if I didn't receive life-saving drugs from a miraculous donation.
Today, many TB patients can't get care for a variety of reasons: A lack of appropriate diagnostics and medications, a limited number of health professionals, lack of access to quality health care facilities and services, uncertain drug supplies, the expensive cost of TB drugs, and a lack of knowledge among many people about when and how to seek diagnosis and treatment for TB.
In the end, it comes down to a lack of funding and political commitment to fighting TB at the local, national, and international levels.
Due to the complexity these challenges, alleviating them will need to incorporate the hands of many, and should take into account the Millennium Development Goals that the world has set out to achieve by 2015.
So far, we have made impressive progress towards achieving the MDGs, but are still off track to achieve MDG-6, which is our target to halt and reverse the spread of AIDS, TB, and malaria.
The final push to achieving MDG-6 should be advanced through intensified implementation of national programmes with the support of the UN system and international partners, the further mobilization of resources to fight TB, and better harmonization and coordination of partnerships at national, regional and continental levels.
Reducing the impact of the tuberculosis would significantly propel efforts to achieve not only MDG 6 and other health-related MDGs, but also development goals related to maternal and child health, education, equality, as well as the reduction of poverty.
This March 24, the global TB fighting community is rallying around a call to reach the 3 million people who get sick with TB every year, but don't get the care they need.
For those who read this article please be sure to spend a few minutes on its true purpose, by being a part of the men and women who are committed to the fight against TB.
And be thankful for those scientists who spend their time to discover of new drugs, and the donors, NGOs, activists and many courageous leaders who work every day to ensure we are the generation that ends TB as a public health threat.
Here's to hoping World TB Day is a day to renew our commitments towards zero TB deaths!