For World Tuberculosis Day, the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE)/Friends of the Global Fund, Japan (FGFJ) released a special interview with TV personality JOY, who contracted tuberculosis in 2011. He suffered from the disease for several months before fully recovering and was later appointed as the “Stop TB Volunteer Ambassador.”
TB is one of the top 10 causes of death around the world. More than 10 million people develop symptoms and 1.5 million people die of this disease every year (WHO: Global Tuberculosis Report 2019). Through the mid-1900s, Japan had a very high prevalence of TB, but thanks to a nationwide campaign after World War II as well as the establishment of universal health coverage (UHC), Japan has made tremendous progress in reducing the incidence and mortality rates of TB. Even so, there has been an upsurge in cases in recent years among younger populations and the WHO now categorizes Japan as a “mild-prevalence” country. Thus, in Japan, TB has become “an old and new disease” that needs greater efforts to raise awareness among the general public.
Special Guest Speakers
- JOY (Stop TB Partnership Volunteer Ambassador)
- Dr. Seiya Kato (Director, The Research Institute of Tuberculosis, Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association (RIT/JATA))
- Satoko Itoh (Managing Director and Chief Program Officer, JCIE; Assistant Director, FGFJ)
- Kaori Yamamoto (Freelance Announcer)
The interview features Dr. Kato, who explains the process of tuberculosis transmission and outbreak as well as the current status of tuberculosis in Japan and throughout the world. JOY also discusses the reasons why tuberculosis can be difficult to diagnose early and issues that can arise with a delayed diagnosis.
Satoko Itoh of JCIE and FGFJ also points out that in today’s society, where people are frequently moving around the globe, it is easier for both new infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and existing infectious diseases such as tuberculosis to spread across national borders and become a global problem. She stresses the importance of international solidarity as well as domestic protective measures in the fight against such diseases.
You can watch the full World Tuberculosis Day interview (in Japanese) here: