World Tuberculosis Day
, falling on March 24th
each year, is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis
today remains an epidemic
in much of the world, causing the deaths of about 1.6 million people each year, mostly in the third world
. March 24th
commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch
astounded the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus
. 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 Dr Koch's presentation, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD) proposed that March 24th be proclaimed an official World TB Day. In 1996, the World Health Organization (WHO) joined with the IUATLD and a wide range of other concerned organizations to increase the impact of World TB Day.
TB and AIDS in South Africa
The occurrence of TB in South Africa
has tripled in recent years. The high HIV
infection rate in South Africa has made the treatment of TB more difficult. South Africans receive a grant during the six months required for treatment, however treatment is purposefully disrupted to continue receiving the grant.