Tuberculosis (IB) is a good example of a disease that is easy to cure with modern chemotherapy but yet continues to ravage entire communities leaving in its wake a trail of human suffering. Since time immemorial, hlberculosis has reaped untold suffering in human society and continues to do so with near impunity in some countries. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, Robert Koch proved that tuberculosis was due to a specific organism, the JvJycohacteriu11l tuberculosis (2). The introduction of effective anti-tuberculosis dmgs, started in the 1940s with the discovelY of streptomycin by Selman \\Vaksman (1) in the US, heralded a new optimistic stage in the control of tuberculosis. Brightman and Hilleboe best summed this optimism in 1962 (3): ' "The white plague, tuberculosis - is retreating ... 11,e decade ahead of us, the sixties, will be decisive. We are determined ... that the retreat oj the tubercle bacillus shall inflict asfew casualties upon our human resources as possible. Today tuberculosis workers have found it increasingly more difficult to find the persons who have active tuberculosis and control work requires case-finding methods that have the accuracy oJhigh-powered rifles ... Ifwe lFork hard in the decade ahead, tuberculosis is one disease that we can relegate to a position oj minor importance in public health ... " It is now more than three decades ago since Brightman and Hilleboe wrote and yet tuberculosis remains a major public health problem. Estimates of the global tuberculosis problem portray a gloomy and bleak prospect. According to the World Health Organisation (\\VHO) and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD) onc-third of the world's population, that is about 1.7 billion people, is infected with A-l tuberculosis.

, , ,
J. Huisman (Johannes)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Bruins, H. (1998, September 30). Mantoux Skin Testing and Isoniazid Prophylaxis in the Netherlands Army: Improving on Existing Tools. Retrieved from