While the world watches in morbid fascination as Ebola burns through west Africa, there’s another, more patient killer that will claim far more victims. Unlike Ebola, tuberculosis takes its victims slowly, ensuring that on average a TB sufferer infects almost a dozen others before they are treated – or die.
Each year nine million people are newly infected with TB, a third never diagnosed. 1.4 million will die. These numbers dwarf the deaths by Ebola, the disease that has gripped the world with fear.
Ebola is a new threat and certainly needs attention. But for years now Canada has been at the forefront of helping the world rid itself of the ancient plague of TB. Canada launched TB REACH in 2009, and in its first year this program increased detection and treatment of TB up to 100 per cent in some areas. Its reach has since expanded to 145 projects in 36 countries, and millions of lives have been saved.
Canada is the sole funder of TB REACH, and the time for funding renewal is here. As we did in 2009, Canada needs to pledge another 120 million dollars over five years so that TB REACH can continue with its successful and innovative outreach programs.