TB remains a major infectious killer today, WHO report claims

Thursday, October 18, 2012
Image displaying cover page of the Global Tuberculosis
Report 2012 [Photo Credit: UNifeed]
Geneva/ Switzerland: An estimated 20 million people are alive today as a direct result of tuberculosis (TB) care and control, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Tuberculosis Report 2012 released Wednesday (17 October).

Dr. Mario Raviglione, Director of the WHO Stop TB Department said the report shows that fight against TB is at "a crossroads," with on one hand progress that "allows us even to foresee elimination in some settings" and on the other hand a "huge financing gap that will result if not filled in millions of unnecessary deaths."

New data in the report confirms that TB remains a major infectious killer today. The findings show a continued decline in the number of people falling ill from TB, but still an enormous global burden of 8.7 million new cases in 2011.

The report also points to the promise of medical breakthroughs from new TB drugs – the first in over 40 years – which could be on the market as early as 2013. Tools to prevent, detect and treat all forms of TB are steadily advancing through the R&D pipeline, says the report.

Raviglione said "for the first time in forty years we are going to have drugs available in the next few months that might change the way we deal with multidrug resistant TB."

Nevertheless, he pointed out that "the final battle against tuberculosis has to be really won at the country level" and to that end "we need to do all possible we can to fill the financial gaps that we have in countries."
The report notes that there is a US$ 1.4 billion funding gap per year for research and development. And it warns of a further US$ 3 billion per year funding shortfall between 2013 and 2015 which could have severe consequences for TB control.

According to the report, there were an estimated 1.4 million deaths from TB, including half a million women, underlining the disease as one of the world's top killers of women.
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