Statement from José Luis Castro, President and CEO, Vital Strategies, on World TB Day, March 24, 2021
March 24, 2021 (New York) – “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the devastating results of the world’s failure to invest in health. But it has also shown us what is possible: those countries that responded best brought together strong leadership and coordination, and rapid, evidence-based approaches the crisis. And a remarkable concerted effort led to the development and approval of vaccines in less than a year. These successes offer hope, not just for this pandemic but for the next one—and an inspiration for accelerating progress on one that has plagued humans for millennia: tuberculosis.
10 million people get sick with TB each year and it accounts for 1.4 million deaths, even though it is preventable and curable. And while COVID-19 was the leading infectious killer in 2020, TB deaths remain stubbornly high, disproportionately affecting people in poverty.
All signs suggest the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening TB’s impact, interrupting essential testing and treatment services and the global action, investment and collaboration needed to address this leading killer. Moreover, the growth of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) remains an urgent threat—and COVID-19 has demonstrated the grim cost of inaction for an evolving respiratory virus.
At Vital Strategies, we’re on the cutting edge of the effort to find a less burdensome treatment for the hundreds of thousands of people with MDR-TB. That work is going to be all the more urgent given that the rate of TB will have worsened because of the pandemic.
With COVID-19 recovery in sight, TB will likely once again emerge as the leading infectious killer. We must prioritize strengthening health systems globally and investing in prevention that will save trillions of dollars in treatment and improve health outcomes for millions.
On World TB Day, we join the World Health Organization, our partners and the millions of families affected by the disease in a shared message of urgency to global leaders: We demand action. We have the tools to tackle TB. What we need is political will and collaboration. We unite under the call to Find. Treat. All. Together, we can and must #EndTB.”
About José Luis Castro
José Luis Castro is the President & CEO of Vital Strategies, where he has led a rapid expansion of Vital Strategies’ portfolio, working with governments to tackle the world’s leading killers, primarily in low-and middle-income countries. The organization now reaches into 73 countries and has touched the lives of more than 2 billion people.
About Vital Strategies
Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in 73 countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible.
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