Tuberculosis still a global leading cause of death

Oct 28, 2015, 4:17 PM EDT
red Mycobacterium tuberculosis on blue background.
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The World Health Organization has reported that this year's death rate from tuberculosis on a global scale is half of what it was in 1990, but 4,400 people still die every day of the curable disease. 43 million lives have been saved between 2000 and 2015, yet the W.H.O. says that most of the deaths that occurred otherwise were preventable. The W.H.O.'s release reads:

To reduce TB’s overall burden, detection and treatment gaps need to be closed, funding shortfalls filled and new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines developed, according to the report.
 
Most of the improvement has come since 2000, the year the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established. In all, effective diagnosis and treatment saved 43 million lives between 2000 and 2015, according to the report, the 20th in a series of annual evaluations produced by WHO.
 
“The report shows that TB control has had a tremendous impact in terms of lives saved and patients cured,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan. “These advances are heartening, but if the world is to end this epidemic, it needs to scale up services and, critically, invest in research.”
 
Those advances include the achievement of the MDG that called for halting and reversing TB incidence by 2015. The goal was reached globally and in 16 of the 22 high-burden countries that collectively account for 80% of cases.
 
Worldwide, TB incidence has fallen 1.5% per year since 2000, for a total reduction of 18%.
 
CNN published commentary from Dr. Eric Goosby, the United Nations special envoy on tuberculosis and a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Additionally, from 2009 to 2013, he was the U.S. global AIDS coordinator:
 
Having worked as a physician focusing on HIV/AIDS for decades, and as the U.S. global AIDS coordinator under President Barack Obama, I have seen what it takes to ramp up the AIDS response. Unfortunately, the TB response has historically lagged far behind. Indeed, it's clear that the political backing and momentum to make the bold strides needed to drive down the epidemic just do not yet exist, though we know that path is possible.
 
It is unacceptable that 4,400 people continue to die from TB each day when we can diagnose and cure nearly every person with TB. Yet as the latest World Health Organization report on the global TB epidemic released this week states, there are serious detection and treatment gaps that are keeping people from being cured.
 
Of the 9.6 million people estimated to have fallen ill with TB last year, over 3 million people were not diagnosed with TB and, therefore, were not accessing quality care.
 
Detection and treatment gaps are especially serious among people with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, which has emerged as a public health crisis. The major reason for these gaps is a shortfall in funding. The TB response remains under-resourced. There is currently a funding gap of $ 1.4 billion to fully implement TB prevention and control interventions and an additional gap of $1.3 billion for research.

 

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