Rabat – Annually, World Tuberculosis (TB) Day is commemorated on March 24, in order to raise people’s awareness of the serious health, social, and economic consequences of the disease.
TB is a contagious disease caused by bacteria that affects the lungs but can also reach other organs. World Tuberculosis Day is celebrated on March 24, because on the same day in 1882, Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of the bacteria that causes TB. This led the way in diagnosing the disease and developing treatment.
It remains one of the most deadly infectious diseases in the world. It is responsible for more than 4,000 daily deaths worldwide, and approximately 3,000 deaths annually in Morocco, according to the Moroccan National Association for Awareness and Fight Against Tuberculosis.
In Morocco TB still constitutes a serious public health problem. The association notes that the regions of Greater Casablanca, Tetouan, Tangier, Rabat-Kenitra, Fez-Meknes, Marrakesh-Safi, and Souss-Massa-Draa are particularly affected. Morocco’s incidence of TB stands at approximately 97 cases per 100,000 people.
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The association believes that “concerted efforts must be made between government sectors to combat tuberculosis, drug-resistant tuberculosis, and highly resistant tuberculosis,” as well as to increase the national TB program’s budget, which has recorded a 37% deficit. Currently, the program has a budget of $41 million (MAD 369.5 million).
The appropriate Moroccan authorities must also take up work to improve the socio-economic factors associated with TB, such as poverty, unemployment, malnutrition, and inadequate housing, reads the press release.
Following World Tuberculosis Day in 2019, Morocco’s former Minister of Health Anas Doukkalii announced — during a national meeting to prepare an action plan to end TB in Morocco by 2030 — that 70% of TB patients are from marginal neighborhoods near major cities.
It is within this context that the government must enact a plan to reduce the incidence of TB, strengthen the national monitoring of the disease, and conduct thorough national surveys of the population. Furthermore, the authorities should take special care of TB patients with HIV, considering the danger of COVID-19 in at-risk groups.
In 2018, speaking at a high-level meeting at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly in New York, Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani promised that Morocco is increasing its efforts in eliminating TB.
El Othmani said that Morocco is committed to fulfilling the UN objective of eliminating the infectious disease, noting that the North African country made an 88% increase in the rate of early diagnosis, compared to the world’s average of 61%.