Tuberculosis (TB) kills about 4,700 people a day. Unfortunately, most people know very little about it. In 2006, Doctors Without Borders rated it the second most underreported humanitarian story.
Millions of people with active tuberculosis die because of fear, stigma, misinformation and poverty. Journalists can play an important role in spreading the word about tuberculosis and how to treat it.
For those interested in writing about tuberculosis, Panos London created a free PDF guide to reporting on the disease. It includes key facts, story ideas and resources.
Here are some quick facts about tuberculosis:
About one third of the world’s population is infected with TB, mostly in Africa and Asia.
Most people infected with TB do not become ill. The immune system “walls off” the TB bacilli which, protected by a thick waxy coat, can lie dormant for years. According to the World Health Organization, only about 5-10% of people who are infected with TB bacilli (but who are not infected with HIV) become sick or infected at some point.
TB is a contagious disease. It spreads through the air, usually through sneezing, coughing or spitting. Active TB usually affects the lungs, called pulmonary TB.
- TB is curable. According to the Panos TB guide, “effective, inexpensive treatment is widely available, including for people with HIV. Nearly 85% of all diagnosed cases are successfully cured by six to eight months of treatment with four simple drugs that cost between US$10–12 per person.”
_World TB Day is an awareness day organized by the Stop TB Partnership. It is held every year on March 24th._