On World Tuberculosis Day, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) is drawing attention to the role of nurses as leaders for a TB-Free World.
Nurses account for half of all healthcare workers globally and this percentage is higher in many parts of the world most affected by tuberculosis (TB) such as sub-Saharan Africa.
Often, nurses are the only source of care. WHO estimates a shortfall of nine million nurses globally and it is estimated that an additional 12 million nurses are needed to meet the sustainable development (SDG) goals by 2030. Nurses are crucial in the prevention, detection and treatment of TB and MDR-TB (multi drug-resistant tuberculosis), even though they often work in extremely low-resourced and understaffed settings, with poor access to adequate training and supplies. Nurses play a critical role in improving case detection, initiating patients on appropriate treatment, providing ongoing support to patients and improving treatment outcomes.
This year’s theme for World TB Day is Wanted: Leaders for a TB-Free World to continue to build on the momentum of the high-level Ministerial Conference on Ending TB held in Moscow in November 2017. The theme aims to bring attention to TB and to attract heads of state, ministers, health professionals, affected communities as well as community and local level leaders and citizens to raise awareness and demand more resources and global commitments to end TB once and for all. There is a great need for leaders and champions at all levels to demand action leading up to the high-level meeting on TB in September this year at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. This will be the first ever meeting of its kind for TB.
Nurses are well positioned to be leaders to end TB. As a nurse from Uganda said, “Nurses spend the most time with patients, so when empowered with knowledge on treating TB, it is a benefit to all because this leads to good adherence, good outcomes, a healthy community for all, and through this we will reach our goal strategy; a TB-free world in 2030.” She also said, “I believe that as a nurse I can make life better for people with TB” and she is not alone. Nurses are on the front lines every day across the globe leading the way and are a voice to lead for healthcare for all.
While there have been positive developments in the fight against TB in recent years, including new medications to treat drug-resistant TB (DR-TB), better and faster diagnostics, new treatment formulations for children, and 53 million lives saved over the past 16 years, TB remains a major global health threat with alarming statistics.
TB continues to affect more than 10 million people worldwide every year and roughly 1.7 million people die from TB every year, or in other words, 4,600 people die every day from this curable disease. TB remains the leading cause of death from an infectious disease and kills more than HIV/AIDS. Of an estimated 600,000 people who fell ill with DR-TB in 2016, only 54% of all DR-TB cases were being successfully treated. Deaths due to DR-TB account for more than 25% of all deaths due to antimicrobial resistance.
On this World TB Day and leading up to the UN High level meeting on Tuberculosis in September 2018, we encourage nurses to become leaders for the end of TB in their settings.
The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is a federation of more than 130 national nurses associations representing the millions of nurses worldwide. Operated by nurses and leading nursing internationally, ICN works to ensure quality care for all and sound health policies globally.
Tel: +41 22 908 0100