In an op-ed published in the Nikkei Shimbun on May 15, UN Special Envoy on Tuberculosis Eric Goosby stresses the need for greater efforts to combat tuberculosis (TB), which the World Health Organization recently declared to be the deadliest infectious disease in the world. Due to the emergence of drug-resistant strains of TB and the high treatment costs, the poor are often unable to acquire effective medication, allowing the disease to spread.
Goosby points to Japan’s experience in outlining the path forward. Thanks to its efforts following World War II, Japan has been able to keep fatalities due to TB low. Ambassador Goosby writes that Japan’s efforts to address TB “helped contribute to the development of structures and practices in Japan that resulted in universal access to services in other areas of its health system—commonly referred to as universal health coverage (UHC). Japan’s experience in implementing UHC can create a pathway for other nations to follow as they tackle TB.”
Ending epidemics of TB, AIDS, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases by 2030 is one of the Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted by UN member states in 2015. Ambassador Goosby argues, ”If we are to reach the world’s Sustainable Development Goal of ending TB by 2030, UHC is critical, as is fully funding the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which provides a majority of TB funding globally. Notably, Japan is at the forefront of supporting both UHC and the Fund.”