The Joint United Nations Programme On HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said tuberculosis (TB) continued to be the top infectious killer worldwide, claiming more than 4500 lives a day.
The UN agency said ahead of World TB Day 2018, to be commemorated on March 24, that all partners should take unprecedented and bold action to advance efforts to end tuberculosis and AIDS by 2030.
TB is also the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, causing one in three AIDS-related deaths and in 2016, 1.7 million people died from TB, including around 374 000 people living with HIV.
Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director, said: “The world has the resources to end the interlinked epidemics of tuberculosis and HIV, but political commitment and country action are lacking.
“Political, religious and civil society leaders need to step up to guarantee everyone the right to breathe, to live free from tuberculosis and AIDS.
TB is preventable and curable, however, persistent challenges remain and many of these challenges are also faced by the HIV response and can be effectively addressed if programmes are integrated.
They include unequal access to services, with the most marginalised people still out of reach, the need to access education, housing and basic services to prevent, diagnose and treat TB and HIV through local health-care services and community health-care workers.
There is also the need to strengthen health systems and the urgent need to mobilise resources in programming, research and development,” UNAIDS said.
The UN agency said ending the global TB and HIV epidemics was possible adding, HIV was preventable and effective and affordable treatment was available, while TB was preventable, treatable and in most cases curable.
UNAIDS said progress had been made, with deaths from TB among people living with HIV declining by 33 per cent between 2005 and 2015 as prevention, testing and treatment have improved and increased, however, there was still much more work to be done.
“In September 2018, world leaders would come together at the UN Headquarters in New York for the first-ever UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis.
The meeting would be an important opportunity for countries to adopt a progressive, visionary and actionable political declaration on TB,” UNAIDS said.
Sidibé said: “The United Nations High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis could provide the political, social and financial momentum needed to end TB.
“This year could be the most important since Robert Koch discovered the cause of TB 136 years ago, but only if we all show leadership.”
UNAIDS urged all partners to ensure that TB is elevated on global, regional, national and subnational political and social agendas, that TB and HIV are addressed in unison and that partners combine robust efforts to end TB and HIV by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.