In Cape Town, South Africa, the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease Annual Conference was giving World Bank president Robert Zoellick no peace.
The conference which is part of the on-going international meet on "Promoting lung health in low and middle income countries" held up postcards, urging a substantial increase in direct financing for tuberculosis control in Africa.
The participants informed that they had decided to take the World Bank and its leadership to task , after getting to know that the bank continued to grossly under-finance efforts to check tuberculosis in Africa. This was even two years after African Ministers of Health declared a 'tuberculosis emergency', across the continent.
"Worldwide, five million people die needlessly each year from tobacco-use, which accounts for 10 per cent of all the adult deaths in the world. There are 1.3 billion smokers globally today and half of who will eventually die from tobacco's effects and two-thirds of whom live in only 15 countries of the world. These nations, several of which are major tobacco producers, typically have scant if any anti-smoking programmes," said anti-smoking expert Judit Mackay from the World Lung Foundation. This is a non-government organization dedicated to promote lung health worldwide.
Emphasizing the link between tobacco use and lung diseases as well as the growing urgency for tobacco control in low and middle income nations, health authorities gave that they were looking at working closely with governments across the world for tobacco control.
"The past year has shown that with adequate resources, support and internal leadership all nations can develop and carry out meaningful actions in tobacco use prevention, control and public education," averred Sinead Jones, Director, Tobacco Control, at the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.
Underscoring the importance of tobacco control for a healthy population, Karen Slama, Head, Operation Unit, International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease was quoted: "We now have compelling evidence which shows that non-exposure to smoking and second hand smoke can significantly reduce tuberculosis rate and save millions of dollars currently spent on treatment for the infectious diseases."
Tuberculosis, a curable disease, is the leading cause of death among the 40 million people infected with HIV/AIDS. In response to the crisis, the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease has created a model that is being tested in Asia and Africa.