In this time of economic uncertainty, which some are calling the winter of our hardship, people engaged in the fight against tuberculosis may believe we face hard choices. We can’t do everything we planned in 2009 – so what will we sacrifice? Where do we cut?
Some may be asking these questions, but I will not. I believe we should not lower our sights one bit. Rather, we should broadcast far and wide irrefutable arguments for more and better TB control now. The fight against TB is more than a humanitarian cause – it is also a smart investment, at a time when many investments seem insecure.
A little more than a year ago a World Bank research report found that countries with the world’s highest numbers of TB cases could earn significantly more than they spend on TB diagnosis and treatment if they signed onto the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Plan to Stop TB. The study, which was commissioned by the World Bank on behalf of the Stop TB Partnership and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, made abundantly clear that the economic benefits of TB control are greater than the costs. Most highly affected countries could gain nine times or more their investments in TB control.
The study was published a year ago, but we have only begun the work of persuading decision makers everywhere that fighting TB is a matter of economic survival for many, many countries.
It’s our job to convince them. If we don’t, budgets for TB control and research will almost certainly be cut.
You can bank on that.