World Tuberculosis Day

World Tuberculosis Day, is observed annually on March 24 each year, to build public awareness about the virulent, infectious disease tuberculosis (TB) and efforts to eliminate it. In 2012, 8.6 million people fell ill with TB, and 1.3 million died from the disease, mostly in the Third World. World TB Day is one of eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunization Week, World Malaria Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Hepatitis Day and World AIDS Day.

March 24 commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium responsible for tuberculosis, to a small group of scientists at the University of Berlin’s Institute of Hygiene. According to Koch’s colleague, Paul Ehrlich, “At this memorable session, Koch appeared before the public with an announcement which marked a turning-point in the story of the disease. In clear, simple words Koch explained the aetiology of tuberculosis presenting many of his microscope slides and other pieces of evidence.” At the time of Koch’s announcement in Berlin, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Koch’s discovery opened the way toward diagnosing and curing tuberculosis.

In 1982, on the one-hundredth anniversary of Robert Koch’s presentation, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD) proposed that March 24 be proclaimed an official World TB Day as part of a year-long centennial effort by the IUATLD and the World Health Organization under the theme “Defeat TB: Now and Forever.” However World TB Day was not officially recognized as an annual occurrence by WHO’s World Health Assembly and the United Nations until, 1995, when WHO and the Royal Netherlands Tuberculosis Foundation (KNCV) hosted the first World TB Day advocacy planning meeting in Den Haag, Netherlands. In 1996, WHO, KNCV, the IUATLD and other concerned organizations joined to conduct a wide range of World TB Day activities.

For World TB Day 1997, WHO held a news conference in Berlin during which WHO Director-General Hiroshi Nakajima declared that “DOTS is the biggest health breakthrough of this decade, according to lives we will be able to save.” WHO’s Global TB Programme Director, Dr. Arata Kochi, promised that, “Today the situation of the global TB epidemic is about to change, because we have made a breakthrough In developing health management systems that makes it possible to control TB not only in wealthy countries, but in all parts of the developing world, where 95 percent of all TB cases now exist.”

By 1998, nearly 200 organizations conducted public outreach activities on World TB Day. During its World TB Day 1998 news conference in London, WHO for the first time identified the top twenty-two countries with the highest number of TB cases. In 1999, over 60 key TB advocates from 18 countries attended the three-day WHO/KNCV planning meeting for World TB Day. U.S. President Bill Clinton marked World TB Day 2000 by administering the WHO-recommended DOTS treatment to patients at the Mahavir Hospital in Hyderabad, India. According to Clinton, “These are human tragedies, economic calamities, and far more than crises for you, they are crises for the world. The spread of disease is the one global problem for which . . . no nation is immune.” In Canada, the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health noted on World TB Day 2014 that 64% of TB cases reported nationally were among foreign-born individuals and 23% among Aboriginal people, highlighting TB as a key area of concern about health equity.

Jules Verne

Best known for writing the novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873),and sometimes referred to as the “Father of Science Fiction”, French Science Fiction Author Jules Gabriel Verne sadly passed away on 24th March 1905. He was Born February 8, 1828 in Nantes France, and attended the lycée. After completing his studies he went to Paris to study law. Around 1848, he wrote five libretti for operettas with Michel Carré, for his friend the composer Aristide Hignard, who also set Verne’s poems as chansons. For some years, he divided his attentions between the theater and work. However, some travelers’ stories he wrote for the Musée des familles revealed his true talent: describing delightfully extravagant voyages and adventures with cleverly prepared scientific and geographical details that lent an air of credibility.

When Verne’s father discovered that his son was writing rather than studying law, he promptly withdrew his financial support. Verne was forced to support himself as a stockbroker, which he hated despite being somewhat successful at it. During this period, he also met Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, who offered him writing advice. Verne’s situation improved when he met Pierre-Jules Hetzel, one of the more important French publishers of the 19th century, who also published Victor Hugo, George Sand, and Erckmann-Chatrian, among others. They formed an excellent writer-publisher team until Hetzel’s death. Hetzel helped improve Verne’s writings, which until then had been repeatedly rejected by other publishers. Hetzel read a draft of a Verne story about balloon exploration of Africa; the story had been rejected by other publishers for being “too scientific”. With Hetzel’s help, Verne rewrote the story, which was published in 1863 in book form as Cinq semaines en ballon (Five Weeks in a Balloon). Acting on Hetzel’s advice, Verne added comical accents to his novels, changed sad endings into happy ones, and toned down various political messages and was able to make the science fiction genre successful in Europe

Verne published two or more volumes a year. The most successful being : Voyage au centre de la Terre (Journey to the Center of the Earth, 1864); De la Terre à la Lune (From the Earth to the Moon, 1865); Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, 1869); and Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (Around the World in Eighty Days), which first appeared in Le Temps in 1872. The series is collectively known as the Voyages Extraordinaires (“extraordinary voyages”). Verne could now live on his writings. But most of his wealth came from the stage adaptations of Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (1874) and Michel Strogoff (1876), Many of his novels involve elements of technology that were fantastic for the day but later became commonplace. He is the second most translated author in the world (after Agatha Christie). Many of his novels have also been adapted into films, animations and television shows numerous times. Verne is also sometimes referred to as the “Father of Science Fiction”, a title he shares with Hugo Gernsback and H. G. Wells.