Physicians Advised to Treat Tuberculosis as a Disease of Poverty

(02.12.2015) Tuberculosis should be treated as a disease of poverty and inequality, the World Medical Association said today.

Against the background of the global growth of tuberculosis, the WMA is updating its training course for physicians to emphasise the relationship between poverty and TB.

The revised interactive training course will provide basic clinical care information for TB including the latest diagnostics, treatment and information about multidrug-resistant TB. It will also provide information on how to ensure patient adherence and infection control and will include many aspects of TB care and management with a global scope so that it can be used across regions. The launch of the course comes as the 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health takes place this week in Cape Town, South Africa, when thousands of physicians and other health care providers from around the world meet to focus on TB.

Sir Michael Marmot, WMA President, said: ‘It has become abundantly clear that TB is the result of a lack of basic health services, poor nutrition and inadequate living conditions. Poverty is fuelling the alarming spread of tuberculosis. The World Health Organisation estimates that one third of the world’s population is infected with TB.

‘We as physicians have to realise that the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, the social determinants of health as I call them, increase vulnerability to contracting TB. That is why I am delighted that one of the United Nations’ new sustainable development goals is to reduce inequality within and among countries.

‘It is vital that physicians keep up to date on how to diagnose and treat tuberculosis. I hope the WMA’s updated refresher course, highlighting the social determinants of health, will help us stem the global growth of TB.’

Dr. Lee B Reichman, Founding Executive Director and Senior Adviser to the New Jersey Medical School Global Tuberculosis Institute, which developed and revised the course with the WMA added: ‘We are delighted to be able to make these updated materials widely accessible, so that this all too often ignored and neglected disease is correctly diagnosed, treated, and ultimately ended as a global health threat.‘

The WMA’s TB refresher course, funded as a "USAID TB CARE II project“, is developed as a preparation course to its MDR-TB course and both courses together offer a complete training module on TB. Both courses are accessible free of charge at the WMA webpage