World TB Day

©Carl Cordonnier Daily Life

©Carl Cordonnier Daily Life

Many people may think tuberculosis is a disease of the past, but sadly it remains a threat in Britain and beyond. What is particularly worrying is that TB is becoming increasingly resistant to the drugs currently used to treat it. Levels of drug-resistant TB are on the rise worldwide and, surprisingly, 20% of the global cases are within the European Region. In the UK drug resistance is increasing, and is at its highest level yet. London has the highest TB rate of any capital city in Western Europe.

This Sunday 24 March is World TB Day. It is a chance for us to celebrate the great advances made in fighting this devastating disease, and to remind ourselves of the challenges we still face. To mark the day I hosted an exhibition in the European Parliament, together with the World Health Organisation. Hopefully this will help raise awareness about the threat of TB within the European Union.

Next month I am launching a Written Declaration in the European Parliament to call for more action on drug-resistant TB. To fight this disease we must arm ourselves with new, effective drugs and vaccines. EU research funds have been invested in TB for years, and we have to support global efforts to tackle this cross-border disease through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Tuberculosis treatment is long and difficult. The disease is potentially fatal and can leave patients with lasting side effects. It remains a challenge not only in the developing world, but in developed countries too. It is time we truly consigned TB to the history books.

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