As healthcare providers, when we hear the word “tuberculosis,” or TB, many of us think of it as an extinct disease, eradicated years ago. In reality, this airborne-spread illness continues to be one of the most infectious illnesses on our planet.

In 2022, 1.3 million people around the world died from tuberculosis disease and 10.6 million people fell ill from the disease. Globally TB has been the top cause of death due to a single infectious agent every year until it was surpassed by COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021.

In 2023, Manitoba reported 176 individuals newly diagnosed with TB. Although Canada is a low-incidence country, TB disease is inequitably distributed with newcomer and Indigenous communities continuing to experience a TB burden considerably higher than the overall population.

TB is curable and preventable. Since the year 2000 global efforts combating TB have saved an estimated 66 million lives. 

The theme of World TB Day 2024 is the same as last year, as the message has such grave importance: Yes, we can end TB. The World Health Organization’s goal of ending TB by 2030 can be achieved by working together to ensure everyone in Manitoba, in Canada and the world has equitable access to care and treatment, and addressing the inequities that contribute to the persistence of this disease.

Here are some important resources:

Join us on Sunday, March 24 for World TB Day as the City of Winnipeg’s sign, the Esplanade Bridge, and the Convention Centre will all be lit up red to recognize the day in 1882 when the bacterium causing TB was discovered, and the individuals and communities affected by this devastating disease.

-MNU thanks member Nathan Wilson for contributing this important piece on TB to The Pulse! Nathan has been a nurse in the WRHA for 19 years and has spent the last five years at Public Health TB Services.