A Message from CDC Leadership on World TB Day

Content From: Rebecca Martin, PhD, Director, Center for Global Health, CDC, and Hank Tomlinson, PhD, Acting Director, Division of Global HIV & TB, Center for Global Health, Centers for Disease Control and PreventionPublished: March 23, 20184 min read


On World Tuberculosis (TB) Day 2018, we find ourselves at a critical moment in the global fight against this curable and preventable infectious disease. We can find, cure, and prevent TB [PDF, 1MB] on a global scale, but it will require more work, more science, more determination, and yes, more leaders if we are to end this epidemic.

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That is why the theme for this year’s TB Day – “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world” – is both timely and necessary.

There have been remarkable gains by CDC and many others to diminish TB’s toll. Over the last 15 years, the number of TB deaths worldwide has fallen by 47 percent – that’s nearly 50 million lives saved since the year 2000 alone. And, while TB extracts a high economic price, efforts to end TB are one of the best public health investments – every dollar spent on TB results in a $43 economic benefit to society.

The United States has made great progress towards the goal of TB elimination. In 2017, the United States 9,093 cases of tuberculosis – the lowest number of cases on record. The decline in TB case counts in the United States are a credit to the work of local TB control programs in the U.S. in finding and treating people with TB disease to stop the cycle of transmission.

Graphic featuring title text stating "TB is the number one killer of people living with HIV"
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World TB Day 2018 is a time for optimism. Today, we stand at a critical juncture – and we will not diminish our efforts nor our determination to reach the 2035 global goal to eliminate TB. Our plan requires building on what works and applying innovation to the challenges that remain.

As one of the global leaders in the fight to end TB, CDC is uniquely poised to change the future trajectory of TB incidence and mortality. Our scientific experts work closely with partners worldwide to break the cycle of TB transmission by scaling up tools that work, to bring new and more effective approaches to bear to control infections, and to find and respond to TB hotspots.

In countries around the world, we are partnering to break the cycle of transmission by identifying TB hotspots, targeting screening efforts, and scaling up TB preventive treatment for people living with HIV and other high-risk groups. In Mozambique and Zambia, we are expanding access to better screening, contact tracing, and diagnostic tools to find missing cases, and we are working with the Government of India to reduce drug resistant TB.

CDC is also working aggressively in high TB burden countries to strengthen laboratory capacity to detect TB, improve disease surveillance, and train “disease detectives” and other health care professionals who are crucial foot soldiers to prevent and cure.

In September 2018, leaders from the 193 members of the United Nations will hold the first-ever high-level TB meeting. This step is historic and timely since it will focus the world’s leaders’ attention on ending this epidemic. CDC will join with world leaders and advocates at this high-level meeting to address the urgency of TB efforts, to advance innovation, to scale up tools that work in the fight against this deadly epidemic, and highlight the need for accountability.

Image of a young boy with text stating "CDC's innovative efforts to find, cure, and prevent TB are creating a safer America and a safer world.
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CDC is proud to be a principal player in this “year of the leader” – serving as a strong partner and ally in the fight to end TB whether the venue is the United Nations or on the frontlines in countries.

On this World TB Day, CDC’s world-class scientists are renewing their commitment to apply rigorous science and disease surveillance techniques to end this epidemic. We ask you to join us in a renewed commitment to end TB.

As we mark World TB Day, we invite you to tell the story of global successes finding, curing, and preventing TB (including using our fact sheets [PDF, 651KB], infographics, and social media cards). We thank you for all that you are and will continue do to reach our shared goal to end TB.