March 24: World TB Day

Canada should renew commitment to global TB treatment

To the editor:

The prophets of doom have been proven correct: largely due to global apathy, tuberculosis has become the world’s greatest communicable killer, even greater than HIV/AIDS.

For years, the wealthy nations of the world have stood by and dismissed TB as a third-world problem, considered only after such things as local politics and geopolitical considerations have been dealt with. But just because the world stands still doesn’t mean the TB bacillus does, and ever-increasingly virulent strains have evolved, overcoming once-effective antibiotic treatments.

TB is a disease of destitution, and while treatment can often still be effective, the disease thrives whenever deeply impoverished living conditions are found, which is why it remains endemic in many of Canada’s aboriginal communities.

Today (March 24) is World TB Day, and it’s a chance for Canada to publicly renew its commitment to global TB treatment via the Global Fund, now due for replenishment.

But as TB is a symptom of deep poverty, these funds must not be diverted from other development programs.

For many years now, Canada’s aid budget has operated from a place of robbing Peter to pay Paul, while our total commitment to foreign assistance has declined to the lowest of all major industrial nations.

 

Nathaniel Poole

Victoria