How TB still debilitates the world

A march against tuberculosis

New data published by the World Health Organisation in its 2016 “Global Tuberculosis Report” show that countries need to move much faster to prevent, detect, and treat the disease if they are to meet global targets.

The report highlights considerable inequalities among countries in enabling people with TB to access cost-effective diagnosis and treatment that can accelerate the rate of decline in TB worldwide. The report also signals the need for bold political commitment and increased funding.

While interventions saved more than 3 million lives in 2015, the report shows that the TB burden is actually higher than previously estimated, reflecting new surveillance and survey data from India.

In 2015, there were an estimated 10.4 million new TB cases worldwide. Six countries accounted for 60 per cent of the total burden, with India bearing the brunt, followed by Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa.

An estimated 1.8 million people died from TB in 2015. Although global TB deaths fell by 22 per cent between 2000 and 2015, the disease was one of the top 10 killers in 2015, beating HIV and malaria. Gaps in testing for TB and under-reporting of new cases remain major challenges. Of the estimated 10.4 million new cases, only 6.1 million were detected and officially notified in 2015, leaving a gap of 4.3 million.

Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) continues to remain a public health crisis, with India, China, and the Russian Federation accounting for nearly half of all cases globally. And detection and treatment gaps continue to plague the MDR-TB response.

On the funding of TB care and prevention, investments in low- and middle-income countries fall almost $2 billion short of the $8.3 billion needed in 2016. This gap will widen to $ 6 billion by 2020 if current levels of funding are not increased, the report cautions.

Published on October 14, 2016
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