World Tuberculosis Day

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World Tuberculosis Day
World Health Organization Flag.jpg
Observed byAll UN Member States
Date24 March

World Tuberculosis Day, observed on 24 March each year, is designed to build public awareness about the global epidemic of tuberculosis (TB) and efforts to eliminate the disease. In 2012, 8.6 million people fell ill with TB, and 1.3 million died from the disease, mostly in low and middle-income countries.[1]

World TB Day is one of eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunization Week, World Malaria Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Hepatitis Day and World AIDS Day.[2]


24 March commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing to a small group of scientists at the University of Berlin's Institute of Hygiene that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus.[3] According to Koch's colleague, Paul Ehrlich, "At this memorable session, Koch appeared before the public with an announcement which marked a turning-point in the story of a virulent human infectious disease. In clear, simple words Koch explained the aetiology of tuberculosis with convincing force, presenting many of his microscope slides and other pieces of evidence."[4] At the time of Koch's announcement in Berlin, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Koch's discovery opened the way toward diagnosing and curing tuberculosis.


In 1982, on the one-hundredth anniversary of Robert Koch's presentation, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD) proposed that 24 March be proclaimed an official World TB Day. This was part of a year-long centennial effort by the IUATLD and the World Health Organization under the theme "Defeat TB: Now and Forever.”[5] World TB Day was not officially recognized as an annual occurrence by WHO's World Health Assembly and the United Nations until over a decade later.

In the fall of 1995, WHO and the Royal Netherlands Tuberculosis Foundation (KNCV) hosted the first World TB Day advocacy planning meeting in Den Haag, Netherlands; an event they would continue co-sponsor over the next few years.[6] In 1996, WHO, KNCV, the IUATLD and other concerned organizations joined to conduct a wide range of World TB Day activities.

For World TB Day 1997, WHO held a news conference in Berlin during which WHO Director-General Hiroshi Nakajima declared that "DOTS is the biggest health breakthrough of this decade, according to lives we will be able to save."[7] WHO's Global TB Programme Director, Dr. Arata Kochi, promised that, "Today the situation of the global TB epidemic is about to change, because we have made a breakthrough. It is the breakthrough of health management systems that makes it possible to control TB not only in wealthy countries, but in all parts of the developing world, where 95 percent of all TB cases now exist."[8]

By 1998, nearly 200 organizations conducted public outreach activities on World TB Day.[6] During its World TB Day 1998 news conference in London, WHO for the first time identified the top twenty-two countries with the world's highest TB burden.[9] The next year, over 60 key TB advocates from 18 countries attended the three-day WHO/KNCV planning meeting for World TB Day 1999.[10]

U.S. President Bill Clinton marked World TB Day 2000 by administering the WHO-recommended Directly Observed Therapy, Short-Course (DOTS) treatment to patients at the Mahavir Hospital in Hyderabad, India. According to Clinton, "These are human tragedies, economic calamities, and far more than crises for you, they are crises for the world. The spread of disease is the one global problem for which . . . no nation is immune."[11]

In Canada, the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health noted on World TB Day 2014 that 64% of TB cases reported nationally were among foreign-born individuals and 23% among Aboriginal people, highlighting TB as a key area of concern about health equity.[12]

Today the Stop TB Partnership, a network of organizations and countries fighting TB (the IUATLD is a member and WHO houses the Stop TB Partnership secretariat in Geneva), organizes the Day to highlight the scope of the disease and how to prevent and cure it. [13]

Themes by year

Each World TB Day addresses a different theme. The following is a list of annual themes:

2008–2009: I am stopping TB

The two-year World TB Day campaign "I am stopping TB", launched in 2008, highlighted the message that the campaign belonged to people everywhere doing their part to Stop TB.

2010: Innovate to accelerate action

The World TB Day 2010 recognized people and partners who had introduced a variety of innovations in a variety of settings to stop TB.[14]

On the occasion of World TB Day 2010, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) declared that attempts to stem the spread of tuberculosis across the globe are likely to fall well short of what is needed unless authorities in affected countries significantly increase their efforts to stop the deadly disease from breeding inside prisons. As a result of overcrowding and poor nutrition, TB rates in many prisons are 10 to 40 times higher than in the general public. The ICRC had been fighting TB in prisons in the Caucasus region, Central Asia, Latin America, Asia Pacific and Africa for more than a decade, either directly or by supporting local programmes.[15][16]

2011: Transforming the fight

For the World TB Day 2011 campaign, the goal was to inspire innovation in TB research and care.

2012: Tell the world what you want to see in your lifetime

For World TB Day 2012, individuals were called upon to join the global fight to stop TB in their lifetime.[17]

2013: Stop TB in my lifetime

The World TB Day 2013 campaign provided an opportunity to mark progress towards global targets for reductions in TB cases and deaths: TB mortality fell over 40% worldwide since 1990, and incidence was declining.[18] Further progress would depend on addressing critical funding gaps: an estimated 1.6 billion US dollars needed to implement existing TB interventions.

2014: Reach the three million

Of the 9 million people a year who get sick with TB, 3 million of them are "missed" by health systems.[19] The focus of World TB Day 2014 was for countries and partners to take forward innovative approaches to reach the 3 million and ensure that everyone suffering from TB has access to TB diagnosis, treatment and cure.

2015: Gear up to end TB

World TB Day 2015 was seen as an opportunity to raise awareness about the burden of TB worldwide and the status of TB prevention and control efforts, highlighting WHO's vision of a world free of TB with zero deaths and suffering.[20]

2017: Unite to end TB

World TB 2017 focused on joining efforts to raise awareness and eliminate Tuberculosis.[21]

2018: Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world

World TB 2018 focused on building commitment to end TB, not only at the political level with Heads of State and Ministers of Health, but at all levels from Mayors, Governors, parliamentarians and community leaders, to people affected with TB, civil society advocates, health workers, doctors or nurses, NGOs and other partners.[22]

2019: It's time

The theme for World TB day 2019 is "It's time". The emphasis for this year's event is to pressure world leaders to "act on [their] commitments".[23]

2020: It's time to End TB

The theme for World TB day 2020 is "It's time to End TB!"[24]

See also


  1. ^ World Health Organization, Tuberculosis. WHO Fact Sheet N° 104, Reviewed March 2014. Accessed 8 April 2014.
  2. ^ World Health Organization, WHO campaigns.
  3. ^ Ryan, Frank. 1992. Tuberculosis: The Greatest Story Never Told. Worcestershire: Swift Publishers.
  4. ^ Paul Steinbruck. 1982. "Robert Koch." World Health (January): 4–7.
  5. ^ IUATLD/WHO information kit, 1982
  6. ^ a b Klaudt, Kraig. 2000. "Mobilizing Society Against TB." Pp. 843–864 in Tuberculosis: A Comprehensive International Approach, 2d ed, ed. L. Reichman and E. Hershfield. New York: MarcelDekker.
  7. ^ "Breakthrough in TB Control Announced by World Health Organization," Press Release WHO/23, 19 March 1997
  8. ^ Kochi, Arata. "Statement to the Press." 19 March 1997.
  9. ^ "Progress Against TB Stalled in Key Countries." WHO press release No. 30, 19 March 1998, ("Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 March 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)).
  10. ^ Guicherit-Samson, Carla. 1999. "Report on Workshop Word TB Day." KNCV memo 34.123/CGS/8172ev.
  11. ^ "President Clinton Helps TB Patients." WHO press release No. 20, 24 March 2000, (
  12. ^ National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, How will you make World TB Day count? Accessed 22 April 2014.
  13. ^ "World TB Day". Stop TB Partnership. UNOPS. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  14. ^ Stop TB Partnership, World TB Day 2010.
  15. ^ Tuberculosis: a killer that can’t be kept behind bars, ICRC News release, 22 March 2010
  16. ^ Tuberculosis: stopping a killer that can't be kept behind bars, ICRC
  17. ^ Stop TB Partnership, World TB Day 2012.
  18. ^ World Health Organization, World TB Day 2013.
  19. ^ World Health Organization, World TB Day 2014. Accessed 8 April 2014.
  20. ^ World Health Organization, World TB Day 2015. Accessed 27 January 2016.
  21. ^ "World TB Day 2017". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  22. ^ WHO. World Tuberculosis Day, 24 March 2018
  23. ^ "World Tuberculosis Day 2019". World Health Organization. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  24. ^ "World Tuberculosis Day 2020". World Health Organization. Retrieved 24 March 2020.

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