In support of World TB Day 2022 (March 24) the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) calls on the tuberculosis community to challenge itself to think differently, champion science and embrace evidence-based innovation in order to end TB.

“We have made great strides towards eliminating TB over the last 100 years. The progress made to date has only been possible because of our commitment to research and innovation. While it is important to reflect on our achievements, we must continue to advance our knowledge through research and implement it into policy and practice,” the American Thoracic Society said in a World TB Day 2022 announcement. ATS is one of several member organizations of FIRS.

For World TB Day 2022, FIRS and ATS call for: 

  • Prioritizing active identification and treatment of everyone with TB to prevent transmission of the infectious disease.
  • Using the latest technological advances at our disposal – digital communications, imaging, and diagnostic tools.
  • Undertaking clinical, public health and operational research to create knowledge for action.
  • Involving communities and motivating them to embrace the concept of eliminating TB.
  • Challenging TB inequity globally – we can no longer accept that people in low- and middle-income countries are, every day, infected, becoming sick and dying with TB, while people in high-income countries are unaware that TB still exists. 

“With deaths increasing for the first time in over a decade — 1.5 million deaths in 2020 — TB must be treated as an emergency. Which is why we call on world leaders to keep the promises they made at the UN High-Level Meeting 2018 and #InvestToEndTB,” the ATS said in an announcement.  

Despite the limited funding (in particular when compared with COVID-19), there have been significant TB research triumphs in the past decade, such as: 

  • Molecular tests make diagnosis possible in less than two hours, rather than two to four weeks.
  • Treatment of multidrug-resistant TB has been shortened from two years of toxic, injectable agents to six months of an all-oral regimen.
  • Treatment of TB infection has been cut from nine months to as short as one to three months with safer and better tolerated regimens. 

“These breakthroughs are testament to our commitment to science. In order to make the next great breakthrough in TB elimination we must nurture an environment where evidence-based innovation can flourish. It will be challenging to sustain such an environment given the current hardships we are facing globally, including the millions of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine,” the ATS wrote.

More information on World TB Day 2022 is available on the ATS website.