On World TB Day, Partnerships Remain Key to Success

Today, the CDC Foundation joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the global community in recognizing World TB Day.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a highly contagious bacterial infection that attacks the lungs, causing a painful cough, fever, respiratory difficulties and extreme weight loss. TB is preventable and treatable, yet it remains one of the deadliest infectious diseases in the world.

The ongoing impact of COVID-19 makes the fight against TB more critical than ever. The COVID-19 response has strained public health systems and diverted resources from TB care and services. Recent reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that deaths from TB are on the rise for the first time in over a decade—with 1.5 million lives lost to the disease in 2020 alone.

Despite these challenges, CDC has rapidly adapted TB services, in collaboration with international partners and Ministries of Health, to maintain and expand key TB screening, treatment and prevention activities. The CDC Foundation proudly supports CDC in implementing key programs focused on protecting and building on the hard-won progress made in the global response to TB.

Through our collaboration, Ending TB in Vietnam through Regional Partnerships, the CDC Foundation and our international partners are supporting Vietnam’s efforts to end TB in Ho Chi Minh City—the epicenter of the country’s TB epidemic. CDC and Friends for International TB Relief (FIT) have provided training in infection control measures and routes of TB transmission. FIT has also expanded mobile chest x-ray screening campaigns and worked to improve treatment outcomes and defray high costs of care for people with multidrug-resistant TB. This project has successfully linked individuals to TB screening and treatment who might not otherwise have had access, demonstrating the critical role of partnerships in ending TB.

People living with HIV are at a particularly high risk of becoming sick from TB, and TB is currently a leading cause of death among this vulnerable population. In response to this ongoing health crisis, the CDC Foundation recently launched a new project with CDC and with technical support from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health: Expanding Coverage of Tuberculosis Preventive Treatment among People Living with HIV (PROTECT). With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PROTECT will evaluate the widescale use of tuberculosis preventive treatment (TPT)—a course of treatment that prevents asymptomatic TB infection from progressing to clinical disease and death. The project will establish partnerships in Haiti, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe to gather data on the impact of TPT programs. This vital information will be used to inform the potential expansion of TPT in other countries.

Thanks to strong TB surveillance—including gathering data on incidence of disease, demographics, and geographical information—TB programs worldwide have proved resilient against the challenges posed by COVID-19. To promote more effective use of surveillance data in TB program planning, the CDC Foundation and CDC are assessing tools used by national TB programs. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this assessment is intended to help optimize global investment in TB surveillance as well as monitoring and evaluation.

“Our work with the CDC Foundation is saving lives around the world," said Anand Date, Acting Global TB Branch Chief for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “By partnering with the CDC Foundation on TB projects like these, we can accelerate progress and adopt innovative approaches to ensure that essential TB services such as screening, treatment, and prevention continue even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

TB remains a formidable foe, but the CDC Foundation is committed to supporting CDC and all our partners as we continue the lifesaving work of eliminating TB as a global public health emergency by 2030.

Miranda Bodfish
Miranda Bodfish is associate vice president for the CDC Foundation's department of infectious disease programs.
Ruth O'Neill headshot
Ruth O’Neill is a senior communications officer for the CDC Foundation’s department of infectious disease programs.