Today is the UN's World Day of Social Justice. It's been marked on February 20th each year since 2007 (in recognition that exclusion and inequality are both globally on the rise).
Well the right of access to effective treatment for MDR- and XDR-TB is undeniably an issue of social justice. It's one, as Joni Mitchell once put it, of "who gets the gravy, who gets the gristle, and who gets the marrow bone - and who gets nothing though there's plenty to share..."
Actually there's not much in the way of gravy at all really in treatment for DR-TB - unfortunately it's all pretty much gristle or worse - but there's far too many who get nothing at all in the way of treatment and then infect others before dying.
So today we have to ask a question of the UN itself in New York - since incidentally it has set as one of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) a target of ending TB by 2030.
In the hope of achieving this some specific targets have been set for the next 20 years. These targets were set by the WHO (unanimously endorsed by the World Health Assembly itself) and since then they've been developed by the Stop TB Partnership. So we ask the same question of these august organisations in Geneva as well. (They've set some ambitious targets for sure, but they reflect 'all TB' with not a mention of MDR or XDR disease.)
We ask this:
Where are the targets for these most dangerous and poorly addressed parts of the 'all-TB' pandemic - for MDR- and XDR-TB? Because we can't see them anywhere.
Some certainly existed previously in the targets that were set by the Stop TB partnership for 2015. Unfortunately each one of them was abjectly missed. So is that why they don't exist within the current strategies to defeat this ancient disease? Surely that can't be the reason, can it?
We don't know - nor do we understand why no-one out there is screaming about this -especially because MDR- and XDR-TB pose the greatest threat of all to exactly those one (or two) billion who are most affected by exactly that exclusion and inequality that the UN (particularly today) acknowledges exist.
So here's our own scream on the UN's World Day of Social Justice:
PLEASE, LET'S SEE SOME TARGETS SET FOR MDR- AND XDR-TB!