GENEVA – On World TB Day, 24 March, the Global Fund is urgently calling for the world to reignite the fight to end tuberculosis (TB) by 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended years of progress in the fight against TB. Deaths from the disease rose for the first time in more than a decade, fueled by a surge in undiagnosed and untreated cases.
“If we fail to step up the fight against TB, we must accept that we are effectively abandoning the 2030 goal to end the disease as a public health threat,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “We must mount a massive effort to diagnose people quickly and get them the necessary treatment. TB is deadly and is the top infectious disease killer after COVID-19.”
TB programs helped the COVID-19 response
In many countries, COVID-19 overwhelmed health systems, lockdowns disrupted service provision, and critical resources were diverted from the fight against HIV, TB and malaria to fight the new pandemic.
But decades of effort fighting TB were not in vain. With the additional resources deployed [ download in English | Français ] countries leveraged some of the best assets in the fight against TB to combat COVID-19. Community health workers, laboratories, diagnostic equipment, disease surveillance systems and other TB investments put in place over the years gave countries a leg up in the fight against the new pandemic.
The Global Fund partnership has also supported the roll-out of bidirectional testing, where people are simultaneously screened and tested for TB and COVID-19. In the future, it is likely this approach will be expanded to other diseases.
“Community health workers are on the front line of detecting and treating diseases, whether that’s for COVID-19 or TB, HIV or malaria,” said Dr. Eliud Wandwalo, the Global Fund’s head of tuberculosis programs. “They are trusted members of the community and we have seen their critical role during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In most cases, TB is treatable and curable. However, standard TB treatment requires up to six months of drugs that can cause nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. The duration and side effects drive some people to abandon their treatment, which in some cases can lead to drug resistance – when TB bacteria is resistant to at least one of the main TB drugs.
Drug-resistant TB is part of the growing challenge of antimicrobial-resistant superbugs that do not respond to existing medications, resulting in fewer treatment options and increasing death rates for illnesses that would ordinarily be curable – including TB. Drug-resistant TB now accounts for one-third of the world’s deaths from antimicrobial resistance.
Because of stretched resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, between 2019 and 2020, the number of people treated for drug-resistant TB in the countries where the Global Fund invests dropped by a staggering 19%; those on treatment for extensively drug-resistant TB registered an even bigger drop of 37%; and the number of HIV-positive TB patients on antiretroviral treatment as well as TB treatment dropped by 16%. Overall, around 1 million fewer people with TB were treated in 2020, in countries where the Global Fund invests, compared with 2019.
The Global Fund is the largest external source of financing for drug-resistant TB in low- and middle-income countries, working with partners to support the introduction of new drugs that provide better and faster treatment. The amount of funding for drug-resistant TB available through the Global Fund has more than tripled over the last six years.
Rapid response to TB in Ukraine
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2020, 30 countries accounted for 86% of new TB cases around the world. Eight countries account for two-thirds of the total, with India leading the count, followed by China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh and South Africa.
In the European region, Ukraine is one of the countries with a high prevalence of TB. The disease re-emerged as a public health challenge in the 1990s. According to WHO, while new cases have significantly decreased over the last 15 years, TB prevalence, as well as TB deaths, remain high in the country. Drug-resistant TB also remains a public health threat in Ukraine. Over the last two decades, the Global Fund has invested more than US$850 million in Ukraine for HIV and TB testing, prevention and treatment programs and to fight COVID-19.
“We are extremely concerned for the health of people on HIV and TB treatment in Ukraine who are fleeing conflict in very stressful situations,” said Sands. “The Global Fund is fast-tracking US$15 million in emergency funds and working with partners in Ukraine and some of the nearby countries to ensure patients in their programs continue to get the treatment and support they need to be healthy.”
The Global Fund Replenishment campaign
Last month, the Global Fund launched its Seventh Replenishment campaign, aiming to raise at least US$18 billion to fight TB, HIV and malaria, build stronger systems for health and reinforce pandemic preparedness. In the countries where the Global Fund invests, the largest increase in projected funding needs is for TB care.
The Global Fund is the leading international funder of TB programs – providing 77% of all international financing for the disease. From January 2021, the Global Fund has increased TB grants by 24% on average, and the partnership is committed to deploying more than US$2 billion to fight the disease over the next three years.
To get the world back on track toward ending TB as a public health threat by 2030, urgent efforts are needed to prevent and treat TB, including a renewed focus on finding “missing” people with TB and successfully treating them.
The Key Role of Trustworthy Babysitters in Balancing Work and Family Life
Are you a busy parent in constant pursuit of the elusive work-life balance? We know firsthand how overwhelming and challenging it can be to juggle professional commitments while still having quality time with your children.
That’s why we’re here to discuss an essential ingredient that unlocks the secret to harmony: trustworthy babysitters.
What Characteristics Parents Should Look for When Choosing a Babysitter?
Parents should look for a few key characteristics when choosing a babysitter. A good babysitter should be patient, responsible, and reliable. They should also be comfortable with children and have prior experience caring for them.
Besides, the babysitter must be able to communicate effectively and follow directions well. The babysitter should be someone the parents can trust to care for their children in their absence.
Strategies for Parents to Establish Reasonable Anticipations
As a parent, finding babysitters you can trust to care for your children is vital. However, it is also important to establish reasonable expectations for your babysitters.
Some tips for establishing reasonable expectations for babysitters include:
- Set clear expectations: Sit down with your babysitter to discuss bedtime routines, dietary preferences, and any necessary medications.
- Allow flexibility: While clarity is vital, also provide room for your babysitter to use their judgment and feel comfortable in their role.
- Trust their expertise: Once expectations are set, trust your babysitter’s judgment as a professional caregiver to avoid undermining their authority and creating discomfort in their role.
Determining a Fair Payment Plan
Determine your babysitting budget, factoring in your income and family size, while researching local rates. Account for the babysitter’s experience and qualifications, giving preference to those recommended by trusted sources.
Engage in open negotiations with your chosen babysitter. This aims to find a mutually agreeable arrangement that accommodates both your budget and their needs.
Tips on Finding Trustworthy and Compassionate Caregivers
When seeking a caregiver for your child, to ensure you find the right fit:
- Seek recommendations from trusted sources such as friends, family, and neighbours who may have suggestions for caregivers in your area.
- Conduct online research to review feedback and check references to gauge candidates’ qualifications and experience.
- Request references and contact details from the caregivers’ previous employers or families they have worked with.
- Trust your instincts and ensure you feel at ease with the caregiver, ensuring they are someone you can entrust with your child’s well-being.
Being able to trust your babysitter means you can have peace of mind knowing your child is safe and cared for.
Spending some time researching online reviews or asking friends and family for recommendations will help you find the perfect fit so you can feel more at ease while juggling work commitments in today’s hectic world.
Facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home
THUNDER BAY — St. Joseph’s Care Group and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit have declared a facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home, part of the St. Joseph’s Heritage complex on Carrie Street near Red River Road.
The respiratory outbreak at the 112-bed facility was declared effective Sept. 15 but only announced publicly on Monday.
No details were provided with regard to the number of people affected to date.
Restrictions are now in place for admissions, transfers, discharges, social activities and visitation until further notice.
Alberta COVID hospitalizations up 73% since July: health minister
Three weeks after the start of the school year, Alberta’s health minister provided an update on the spread of airborne viruses in the province.
Adriana LaGrange also said more information about flu and next-generation COVID-19 vaccines will soon be released.
“Now that we will be spending more time indoors, we need to make doubly sure we are following proper hygiene protocols like handwashing and staying home when sick,” LaGrange said. “It also means respecting those who choose to wear a mask.”
Global News previously reported that influenza vaccines will be available on Oct. 16 with the new Moderna vaccine formulated to target the XBB.1.5 variant likely to be available at around the same time. On Sept. 12, Health Canada approved the use of the Moderna vaccine.
“More information on immunizations against respiratory viruses including influenza and COVID-19 will be available shortly,” the health minister said.
LaGrange said there have been 28 cases of influenza and five lab-confirmed cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) since Aug. 28.
“This is consistent activity for this time of the year,” the health minister said in a statement.
The end of August or the beginning of September has typically marked the beginning of flu season for provincial health authorities.
LaGrange also provided an update on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the province.
From Aug. 28 to Sept. 8, there were a total 92 new hospitalizations and three ICU admissions, bringing the total to 417 in hospital and seven in ICU, a 73 per cent increase of COVID hospitalizations from the last reported info.
On July 24 – the last update to the province’s COVID data dashboard – there were only 242 in hospital.
“Sadly, five Albertans died during that period due to COVID-19,” LaGrange said.
LaGrange said the reporting dashboard is being refreshed to include RSV, influenza and COVID-19 data, work that was originally expected to be completed on Aug. 30. The latest data on the province’s influenza statistics dashboard is dated July 22.
“This work is currently underway and will be available in the coming weeks,” LaGrange said.
She said data for the dates between July 24 and Aug. 27 will be available when the new dashboard goes online.
Amid more hospitals continent-wide reinstating masking requirements in the face of increased hospitalizations, the health minister made no mention of any such moves for Alberta hospitals. Acute care COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta jumped from Sept. 5 to 12, with 146 per cent more healthcare workers and 55 per cent more patients testing positive for COVID.
LaGrange stressed the “collective responsibility” to prevent the spread of airborne viruses like COVID and influenza.
“As a mother and grandmother, I understand the anxiety that comes with sending your children back to school. I want to reassure you that Alberta’s government has the health and well-being of all young Albertans top of mind,” the health minister said.
–with files from Meghan Cobb, Global News
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