Why we need the human story of TB

Many people think of tuberculosis as a disease of the past, but in reality 1.4 million people die of TB every year. TB is a global epidemic, causing devastating loss of life and hampering economic productivity. It is also a European problem, where TB rates have been on the rise over the past few decades.

TB can affect anyone, regardless of where they live. The WHO European Region’s 53 countries include some very high burden TB countries as well as some of the lowest burden TB countries in the world. Eighteen countries in this region are designated as high priority for TB control by WHO Europe.

The TB problem is often described in statistics: the number of new cases that develop each year, the number of people that die from it and the monetary figure required to eliminate the disease. Within this narrative, the voices of those people whose lives are most affected by TB are lost.

This section seeks to reenergise the fight against TB by telling the human side of the disease; giving a voice to the individuals and communities who have long been represented in numbers and figures.

The following case studies illustrate that while progress has been achieved; new challenges are emerging, reminding us that the fight against TB requires sustained political will and financial investment if we are to finally eradicate the disease.

European domestic governments and European institutions have a unique role to play in the global TB response by contributing to international financing and to TB research. However, this report clearly demonstrates that there is also much to be done closer to home. A concerted effort is needed to address the particular effect of TB on the lives and livelihoods of individuals and communities in the WHO European Region itself.

The voices of the epidemic are there, expressing the everyday challenges of dealing with TB, as well as offering solutions to tackle the disease. Decision makers just need to listen.

Voices in the Fight














This webpage is the product of an activity that has received funding under an operating grant from the European Union’s Health Programme (2014-2020).

The content of this webpage represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility; it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission and/or the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission and the Agency do not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.