One of Dr. Paul Farmer’s vivid memories from his early days in Haiti was a young woman who coughed up bright red blood.

She died of tuberculosis, a scourge that will kill about 1.4 million people this year, despite the existence of diagnostics and therapeutics to cure it.

On World TB Day, Farmer talked about how the world can reach zero tuberculosis deaths with Ray Chambers, UN special envoy for health financing, in The Huffington Post. Farmer said that better diagnostics, shorter treatment, and community-based care are critical components of meeting the Millennium Development Goal to achieve universal treatment of TB by the end of 2015.

Farmer highlighted the success of Tomsk, Siberia, in fighting multidrug-resistant tuberculosis as an example of how to overcome difficult-to-treat strains. He also commended the work of Dr. Mercedes Becerra, senior TB specialist at Partners In Health, to estimate the alarming number of children who become sick with TB every year. Still, Farmer said that a lack of public awareness of TB is a one obstacle to greater political will to address it.

“I can't tell you how many people, including policymakers, have said to me, ‘Oh, I thought that tuberculosis was a disease of the past,’” Farmer said. “There needs to be more work on the part of health care providers and activists to correct this error.“

Read the full conversation here.

comments powered by Disqus