3rd World Stop TB Partnership Forum 24th March – World TB Day By Rev. Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo Head of the Caritas Internationalis Delegation in Geneva and Chairperson, Catholic HIV and AIDS Network (CHAN)
When compared to the biennial International AIDS Conferences, the environment of this Forum lacked the “glitz”. The crowds were smaller, and the activists were less assertive. But the sense of urgency was just as immediate and the passion was just as evident among the 1,500 participants from more than 100 countries who assembled on 23 March for the opening of the Third Stop TB Partners Forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The theme of the Forum is both straightforward and compelling: “Simply, Stopping Tuberculosis (TB)”. Not many years ago, the global human family seemed to be well on its way to accomplishing that goal by the year 2050 – as had been promised by the public health, clinical, and scientific experts.
In the opening ceremony of the Forum, we learned that the dream may not be realized – due to a number of developments, including the large number of HIV/TB co-infections as well as the development of new and much harder-to-treat “multidrug-resistant (MDR)” and “extensively drug resistant (XDR)” strains of the bacillus that causes TB. It was reported that some 9.7 million people were diagnosed with TB during 2007 and 1.77 million people died of the disease.