UN High Level Meeting on TB
"We live in a world where some children and adults after TB and MDR-TB treatment are left deaf, blind, psychotic, and sometimes unable to leave their homes because they require constant oxygen, but this is considered a ‘treatment success’ by the public health community because the sufferers have also been cured of TB and are therefore non-infectious to the wider population. This doesn’t have to be what ‘success’ looks like."
- Paul Thorn
Bold New Book by Former TB Patient says;
“Public Health Strategy Has Failed”.
Diary of a Modern Consumptive by former TB patient, Paul Thorn has been published to mark the High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis taking place at the United Nations, New York on Wednesday 26th September 2018. World leaders and high-ranking officials will discuss TB for the first time ever and the global threat it presents.
Jennifer Furin MD., PhD. of Harvard Medical School, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, wrote the foreword for the book. She says; “The experience of this devastating illness is the subject of Paul Thorn’s riveting biography, Diary of a Modern Consumptive. In the living pages of this book, we are given a first-hand account of what it is like to live in isolation while battling with a mortal disease. It is a shattering story of the failures of modern medicine when it comes to TB. It is also, however, a miraculous memoir documenting the power of human connectedness even in the face of severe and imposed confinement.”
Both Thorn and Furin agree that the global Public Health strategy to address tuberculosis has failed.
Jennifer Furin says; “Paul’s journey is not an isolated event. Even now, millions of individuals face the same catastrophic experiences he eloquently describes. Much of shared suffering can be attributed to the way the global community has responded to the problem of TB using a public health approach. The public health approach—usually sold as a means of achieving the best results for the most people at the lowest cost—is a weapon often wielded in the war against infectious diseases. While there may be some merits to conceptualizing and responding to the world’s plagues in such a fashion, the public health approach is also incredibly dehumanizing. It sacrifices the pain of individual people on the altar of benefit to an often-abstract human mass. And to date, this public health approach to TB has failed, as seen in the dismal global statistics, the lack of new diagnostic and treatment tools, and the planned exclusion of vulnerable populations, most notably children.”
Furin continues; “There is, however, an alternative TB strategy that could finally turn the tide against this age-old scourge: a human-rights based approach to the disease. Paul provides a blueprint for such an approach in his diary, which stresses the significance of each person’s unique journey with TB. A human rights-based approach to TB means putting the person with TB at the center of all activities and striving to achieve the best possible outcome for every single man, woman, and child who is affected by the disease. It means that all people with TB - regardless of their geographic location or perceived level in society - should be offered the most sensitive diagnostic tests, be treated with the most effective medicines, be provided with all the means to prevent the development of TB, and receive care in a way that allows them to continue to live dignified and productive lives. It does not view the provision of such services as extravagant extras but rather as fundamental basics that form the core of the management of TB.
Paul Thorn says; “There’s no question in my mind that the public health strategy to address the global threat of TB has failed in most recent decades and continues to fail. Global statistics are disappointing at least, there is a lack of new diagnostic and treatment tools, and even the few new drugs we have are not being used widely because many in public health want to ‘protect the drugs for the future’.”
Thorn continues: “TB and indeed MDR-TB are treatable and curable. However, many of the older drugs have severe side effects. We live in a world where some children and adults after TB and MDR-TB treatment are left deaf, blind, psychotic, and sometimes unable to leave their homes because they require constant oxygen, but this is considered a ‘treatment success’ by the public health community because the sufferers have also been cured of TB and are therefore non-infectious to the wider population. This doesn’t have to be what ‘success’ looks like. Any strategy to deal with the problem the world faces from Mycobacterium tuberculosis needs to have its roots in a human rights-based approach, a strategy that puts a person with TB and its drug-resistant variants at the centre of all activities associated in curing it to achieve the best possible outcome for everyone.”
Paul Thorn says; “One only hopes that history will look back on this High-level Meeting as a ‘game changer’ in the fight against this ancient disease that still threatens our modern world today. This will only happen if the leaders of the nations of the world are truly united in their determination to ‘end TB in our lifetime’. Their failure will mean millions more lives lost needlessly. If history shows this High-Level meeting not to be the turning point, then may it judge those who lead our nations accordingly.”
Diary of a Modern Consumptive by Paul Thorn is available from Amazon.