TB epidemic larger than previously estimated
Countries urged to move faster to prevent, detect and treat the disease
The new World Health Organization (WHO) report released last week shows that global tuberculosis epidemic is significantly more serious than previously thought.
According to the report, in 2015, there were an estimated 10.4 million new cases of tuberculosis worldwide, while only 6.1 million were detected and officially registered. The gap of 4.3 million appeared due to the underreporting and under-diagnosing of TB cases in countries with large unregulated private sectors and poor health care.
The report also revealed that TB claimed 1.8 million lives last year. The rate of reduction in TB cases remained alarmingly static at 1.5 percent from 2014 to 2015. TB remains in the top-ten cases of death worldwide, beating HIV and malaria. It should be noted, though, that among 1.8 million of TB victims 0.4 million were co-infected with HIV.
The proportion of TB cases living with HIV was highest in the WHO African Region (31%), and exceeded 50% in parts of southern Africa. “In addition to accelerating the annual decline in TB incidence, reaching the 2020 milestone for a 35% reduction in TB deaths requires reducing the global proportion of people with TB who die from the disease (the case fatality ratio or CFR) from 17% in 2015 to 10% by 2020.
WHO has also launched an appeal, urging nations to “move much faster to prevent, detect, and treat the disease.” WHO also warned that if countries across the globe don’t make more effort to combat TB, the goal of a 90 percent reduction in TB deaths and an 80 percent reduction in TB cases by 2030 compared with 2015 won’t be reached. This grand goal was agreed on both at the World Health Assembly and at the United Nations General Assembly.