I was vaccinated against TB as a schoolboy in the 1950s, and was also vaccinated against polio around the same time. I thought that like polio, TB would have been virtually eradicated by now. How wrong could I be?
Every year, nine million people are infected with tuberculosis and one-third of them will never even be diagnosed. The disease takes the lives of 1.4 million people each year, many of whom never know they are infected. Tuberculosis is preventable, treatable and curable often for as little as $20 per person.
As the disease is transmitted person to person, it makes sense to detect it as early as possible to prevent further spread. We can be proud that Canada is a world leader in this regard and pioneered an innovative program called TB REACH in 2009 that works to achieve early and increased TB case detection using innovative approaches in populations that are poor and vulnerable.
Funding for this program runs out this year and I for one would like to urge the government to renew its support for TB REACH for the next five years.