World Tuberculosis Day is celebrated across the world on 24th March. The day was first celebrated in the year 1982. It is amongst eight global public health campaigns marked by the WHO. The day primarily aims at increasing public awareness about the disease and discovering solutions to eliminate it. For the second successive year, the World health Organisation is running a campaign called “Unite to End TB” which focuses on a combined effort to “Leave No One Behind” from getting penultimate care related to tuberculosis.
Why World Tuberculosis Day is observed?
World Tuberculosis Day is observed to commemorate Dr. Robert Koch’s discovery of the TB bacillus which he discovered on this very day in the year 1882. However, the first World TB Day was observed after 100 years of the discovery. Since then it has become a yearly occurrence and people all over the world gather and discuss possible solutions of this deadly disease.
How nutrition plays an important role in fighting TB?
Presently, tuberculosis accounts for more than 1.7 million lives globally. It affects people of all ages, sex and races and the number of children affected by the disease is extremely high. In India alone, it accounts for nearly one third of all childhood deaths and is also a major risk factor in children for developing TB below the age of five.
According to leading pulmonologists, malnourishment affects body’s immunity making it easier for the bacteria to attack an individual which ultimately makes it difficult to fight tuberculosis. In 2015, one million children below the age of 14 years were affected by this disease. In 2012, there were 81,482 cases of TB among children in the country.
Most prevalent causes of tuberculosis include poverty, malnutrition, poor housing and sanitation among other factors such as HIV, tobacco, alcohol use and diabetes. It’s a misconception that children from poor background living in unhygienic conditions are prone to TB. As per paediatricians, even children from affluent backgrounds are diagnosed with TB.
Tuberculosis patients need higher levels of energy and metabolic immunity to fight the infections and understandably children are more susceptible since their requirement is higher when they are in growth phase.
Diet plays a very important role in combating tuberculosis since the disease has the tendency to relapse. A diet rich in fats, vitamins, minerals and proteins is the need of the hour. Government should intervene immediately and come up with food supplementation programmes which can enhance the value of foods supplied and target families who actually need them. Additionally, parents must become a role model for their children to adopt a healthy lifestyle that can protect against many infections including tuberculosis.