Tuberculosis (TB) has killed more people over the last decade than any other infectious disease. It is a lethal respiratory pathogen, transmitted through the air, and found in nearly every country in the world. Last year, ten million people worldwide contracted the disease.
Ending Workplace TB (EWTB) was launched at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting at the Davos-Klosters meeting in January 2020 to bring new partners to the fight against TB. EWTB is founded on the belief that the private sector can play a defining role in overcoming the disease by leveraging the untapped potential of businesses around the world to reach millions of workers and their communities, and drive new progress in the highest-burden areas.
Research suggests that up to 50 per cent of cases of some infectious diseases originate in the workplace. Breaking the chains of TB transmission in workplaces could have a major impact on the TB epidemic.
Founding Members of the EWTB initiative are Johnson & Johnson, Philips, Fullerton Health, The Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, the Stop TB Partnership, USAID India, and Confederation of Indian Industries.
How can EWTB help?
EWTB targets four core challenges that are central to the ongoing TB epidemic, and particularly relevant to employers:
- Stopping community transmission by raising awareness and working in the community to stop infection and spread
- Lowering patient costs by working with companies to not only offer, but encourage employers to take sick leave when relevant and benefit from phased return-to-work policies
- Accessing healthcare services by establishing or connecting with screening, referral and support services in the workplace
- Reducing stigma by working with technical partners to identify and overcome barriers to speaking about or addressing TB in the workplace
Why join EWTB?
There are six reasons why employers should tackle TB:
1. To reduce the risk of a TB outbreak spreading in a workplace
2. To strengthen a company’s workplace health offering with relatively simple steps that can be integrated with other health programming
3. To reduce absenteeism and time-off due to ill health, and increase productivity through reduced presenteeism
4. To build and leverage structures that will protect against the spread of other lethal respiratory pathogens, like SARS-CoV-2
5. To strengthen brand and profile with an increasingly health-aware public
6. And together, these can add up to a meaningful return on investment.