Global fight to eradicate TB is “fragile” says Geneva organization
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The World Health Organization (WHO) says 20 million people treated in the past 17 years for TB (tuberculosis) and following its recommendations would have died without the treatments. Another 31 million have been “successfully treated and cared for”, according to the WHO Global tuberculosis report 2012, which was published 17 October.
But the fight to eradicate the disease is fragile, the report’s authors conclude.
New data confirms that TB “remains a major infectious killer today”, says the WHO.
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
- 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
- reduced rates of new disease and deaths in all of WHO’s six regions, although the African and European regions are not yet on track to achieve goals to halve 1990 levels of mortality by 2015
- persistently slow progress in multidrug-resistant TB response.
On the good news side, Cambodia receives praise in the report for reducing its TB cases by 45 percent between 2002 and 2011.
A new diagnostic device can test patients for TB, including drug-resistant TB, in under two hours. “The fully automated nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), which can diagnose TB and rifampicin-resistant disease, is now available in 67 low- and middle-income countries. Adoption of the ‘while you wait’ test is expected to further accelerate following a recent 41% fall in the price of the test,” notes the WHO in a press release.
And for the first time in 40 years “medical breakthroughs” from new drugs could make a difference as early as 2013, if an expected funding gap can be closed.