Minister of International Development Invests to End TB on World Tuberculosis Day

By: RC Intern Published: 25/03/2022

The Honourable Minister of International Development, Harjit Sajjan made an announcement on a new investment of CAD$11 million in TB REACH to end tuberculosis (TB) alongside Results Canada and the Stop TB Partnership on Thursday March 24, 2022 at 9:30 a.m. EST. The World TB Day event took place in front of the OTTAWA sign in the ByWard Market (corner of York Street and Sussex Drive), which is one of more than 40 landmarks across Canada lighting up in red to raise awareness for the deadliest infectious disease before COVID-19 hit.
This event shines a light on TB at a time when COVID-19 and conflict are making the risk of a resurgence of this deadly airborne disease very real. The war in Ukraine is bringing devastating consequences for not only the ten million people who have fled their homes, but also for the control of TB. Health officials are concerned that further public health disruptions will arise in health-care systems already strained by the COVID-19 pandemic. As Ukraine has the fourth highest TB incidence rate in the World Health Organization European Region, this means that increased spread of the disease is expected because existing TB care is at risk of severe disruption for individuals living with the disease.
“Disruptions to TB programs caused by the pandemic have led to a surge in the number of undiagnosed and untreated people living with TB,” said Lucica Ditiu, executive director, Stop TB Partnership. “COVID-19 has wiped out more than a decade of progress in the fight to end TB and resulted in the first year-on-year increase in TB deaths since 2005.”
With similarities between COVID-19 and TB as airborne infectious diseases, over the last two years existing TB infrastructure has been diverted to support the rapid global response to the pandemic. This diversion threatens progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal to end TB by 2030.
Fortunately, Canada has demonstrated its support for ending TB in the past at the United Nations High Level Meeting on TB in 2018, as well as by being a founding investor of TB REACH, an innovative financing mechanism designed to identify and treat the millions of people living undiagnosed with TB. Today the Minister reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to ending TB with the investment in TB REACH.
“This World TB Day, Canadians, including Results Canada volunteer advocates, are asking the government to reaffirm its commitment to TB by continuing to invest in mechanisms like TB REACH,” said Chris Dendys, executive director, Results Canada. “Surging TB rates are a proxy for inequity and injustice. Continued investment will ensure additional deaths from this preventable and curable disease are avoided.”
During the pandemic and as the war in Ukraine continues, TB REACH is well-placed to fill the gaps in TB care. An investment in TB REACH from Canada, now, is an investment toward ensuring a world without longstanding epidemics like TB. It is an investment in a commitment to health equity, to ending extreme poverty, and building strong health systems that can respond to existing and future infectious disease threats.

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