A TB patient receives a daily injection at National Institute of Diseases of Chest and Hospital Probal Rashid/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Road to a TB-Free World

Despite being preventable and curable, tuberculosis infects more than ten million people each year and is the most common cause of death by an infectious agent in modern times. The international community needs to take five specific actions to eliminate the scourge of TB once and for all.

GENEVA – When Mabruka was 18, she came home from school one day and started coughing up blood. She had been feeling sick for about two months, and when she went to a health clinic, she described symptoms such as weight loss, fatigue, shortness of breath, fever, night sweats, chills, loss of appetite, and pain when breathing and coughing. Mabruka was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) and prescribed a daily regimen of 9-10 pills. The treatment lasted six months, and during that time she could not attend school.

Shockingly, Mabruka’s experience was almost the same as that of someone contracting TB in the 1950s, when the first treatments were discovered. Owing to a lack of therapeutic innovation since then, poor living conditions, and widespread poverty, millions of people around the world are still being deprived of their right to live free of TB.

More than ten million people contract the disease each year. Despite being preventable and curable, it is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, and the most common cause of death by an infectious agent in modern times.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.


Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

Help make our reporting on global health and development issues stronger by answering a short survey.

Take Survey


Handpicked to read next

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.