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DEVELOPMENT REPORT - March 25, 2002: World TB Day - 2002-03-22

This is Bill White with the VOA Special English Development Report.

March twenty-fourth was World Tuberculosis Day. The yearly event is held to improve knowledge, understanding and action against tuberculosis. The main idea of this year’s campaign against tuberculosis is “Stop T-B, Fight Poverty.” Organizers note the link between T-B and the world’s poor people.

The World Health Organization estimates that about one-third of the world’s population is infected with the bacteria that cause T-B. Infected people spread the disease by releasing particles from their mouths when they cough, sneeze, spit or talk. About two-million people die from tuberculosis each year.

This year’s campaign calls on the world community to expand the program developed by the W-H-O to fight T-B. The program is called Directly Observed Treatment, Short-course, or DOTS.

There are five parts in the DOTS discovery and treatment plan. The first step requires governments and health officials to continue T-B control programs. The next step uses microscope technology to identify infected people.

The third step is a drug treatment program that may continue for as many as eight months. The fourth step of the DOTS program is a guaranteed supply of all needed anti-T-B drugs in countries where the program is in place. Finally, the World Health Organization says countries must establish a system for recording and reporting T-B cases. World T-B Day started in Nineteen-Eighty-Two. At that time, an organization in the African country of Mali suggested that a day be organized to educate people about tuberculosis. The group wanted governments and organizations around the world to recognize the event, similar to World Health Day.

March twenty-fourth is also the day in eighteen-eighty-two when scientist Robert Koch announced his discovery of the bacteria that cause T-B.

Governments and organizations around the world planned major events to observe World T-B Day. In Cambodia, for example, there was a public march through the capital, Phnom Penh. In South Africa, tuberculosis researchers held a health conference. And in Switzerland, children designed “Get Well” messages for young T-B patients in Afghanistan.

Officials hope World T-B Day will improve international efforts to fight the disease.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss. This is Bill White.