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Tuberculosis A Serious Concern Around The World
- Updated: October 28, 2015
In a report released on Wednesday, the World Health Organization said that tuberculosis infections are now a leading cause of death from infectious diseases for people around the world. The report compiled data from 205 countries and territories and covered all aspects of tuberculosis, including drug-resistant cases, research and development and financing. The disease kills 4,400 people daily, according to the UN health agency’s Global Tuberculosis Report 2015.
Tuberculosis is a disease caused by a bacterium, called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which typically attacks the lungs but can also affect the kidney, spine and brain. In 2014, 1.1 million people died of the disease. This was nearly as many as HIV/AIDS, which killed 1.2 million people globally during 2014. About 400,000 of the dead were infected with both HIV and tuberculosis.
About 6 million new cases of tuberculosis were reported to the WHO last year. This number represents fewer than two-thirds of the 9.6 million people worldwide estimated to have fallen sick with the disease last year. New cases of multi-drug resistant strains of tuberculosis are also a concern. There was estimated 480,000 cases of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in 2014.
HIV/AIDS largely affects resource-poor countries in Africa, whereas tuberculosis is more prevalent in countries such as India and China. More than half of the world’s tuberculosis cases were in China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan. Today, southeast Asia and the Western Pacific account for 63 percent of new and relapsed cases of the disease around the world. Africa accounts for 21 percent of new cases.
Big strides in the treatment and prevention of tuberculosis have been made over the past 25 years. Despite a mortality rate that has fallen 47 percent since 1990, big hurdles remain. In 2000, the United Nations set one of its Millennium Development Goals to halt and reverse tuberculosis incidences. Since then, the prevalence of the disease has gone down 18 percent. Since 2000, tuberculosis intervention has saved some 43 million lives, but the death rate remains unacceptably high.
The world needs better access to care for those in need, because with a timely diagnosis and correct treatment, almost all people with the disease can be cured. New drug treatments are also needed. International funding for HIV/AIDS is 10 times higher than for tuberculosis, with $8 million spent on HIV/AIDS interventions, compared with a total of $800,000 spent on tuberculosis.