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Her Imperial Highness The Crown Princess of Japan shares message of support on World TB Day

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Statement from Her Imperial Highness The Crown Princess of Japan on World TB Day 2020.

Her Imperial Highness The Crown Princess of Japan

At a time when all of us are facing a great challenge with respect to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, I would like to express my deep appreciation to all the people in the world who have been dedicated to helping keep communities safe from infectious diseases.

On this World TB Day, our thoughts are with all people, families and communities affected by tuberculosis (TB)—a devastating illness that has a great impact on our world.

Since TB is an airborne disease, nobody is beyond its reach. We must come together to end it.

I attended the Union World Conference on Lung Health in 2018, held in Den Haag, the Netherlands, where I was moved by the words of those who had recovered from TB. They let us know their painful experiences, including the stigma they endured. If their TB had been prevented, they would not have experienced this significant suffering.

TB is a preventable and treatable disease.

Many people all over the world have been making great efforts to allow future generations to be free from the heartbreaking suffering caused by TB. I would like to express my deep respect to all of them for their devoted work.

However, there is more to be done.

The World Health Organization has reported the current facts on TB, and some shortfalls in TB control. For example, an estimated 10 million people around the world fell ill with TB in 2018. Many children who were household contacts of people sick with TB were eligible for preventive treatment, but it is estimated that only one in four such children aged under five actually received this preventive treatment. 

We must strengthen our efforts, with wider understanding and support.

In Japan, the TB burden used to be extremely high. However, it has gone down significantly, thanks to the development of effective medicines in addition to BCG vaccination, dissemination of mass examinations with better diagnosis technologies, the cooperation of many organisations and people, and legislation which allows everyone access to TB treatment.

Female volunteer groups against TB have been one of the contributors to this TB control in Japan. Female volunteers gathered from all over the country for their annual TB seminar told me that raising awareness on TB and other health issues, and promoting health examinations, are among their important activities. They also gave me suggestions on what should be in this message to the world, which included the dissemination of correct information on TB, and full implementation of necessary vaccinations. 

With more people gaining accurate knowledge about TB and supporting efforts to end TB, I hope that we will be able to do away with stigma and discrimination, and quickly reduce the impact of TB all over the world.

No matter what kind of background we have, ending TB and other infectious diseases is a goal that unites the world in common cause. And I will continue to partner with The Union in my advocacy, in solidarity with all the people making efforts to fight against TB. 

H.I.H. Crown Princess Akishino is an Honorary Member of The Union. She has been Patroness of the Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association since 1994.