20 March 2009

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

"In this Time of Economic Crisis, We Must Protect Investments in Global Health"

Message on World Tuberculosis Day, 24 March 2009

VIENNA, 24 March (UN Information Service) - The steps being taken around the world to stop tuberculosis (TB) are having an impact. Today, the epidemic is continuing its decline. But the rate of decline is far too slow, and TB still takes a life every 20 seconds. Millions of people are benefiting from treatment through coordinated national efforts, but millions more are still missing out. Unless we accelerate action, the numbers of those falling ill will continue to grow.

Together, we need to help prevent infection, find all people who are ill far earlier and provide treatment for all. We have a Stop TB Strategy that can do this and a Global Plan to Stop TB that sets the course, but our efforts are falling short.

We must redouble our efforts to fight multidrug-resistant (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR-TB) forms of TB. We must also continue to fight the TB/HIV co-epidemic.

I welcome the commitment of governments, multilateral organizations, non-governmental organizations, foundations and members of the corporate, academic and research communities working to halt and reverse the spread of the disease and stay on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

In this time of economic crisis, we must protect investments in global health, particularly to protect the most vulnerable. Global cooperation in fighting tuberculosis, and all the Millennium Development Goals, must be essential to our task ahead. As we look to the future, we need to build and expand our partnerships to deliver the solutions we know work today. We also need to innovate so we can prevent disease, save lives and enable communities to thrive.

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