Treatment for tuberculosis (TB) has saved the lives of more than 22 million people since 1995, according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Entitled, Global Tuberculosis Report 2013, the document details how the number of people being diagnosed with TB is falling at a rate of 2% per year and global TB deaths decreased from 1.4 million in 2011 to 1.3 million deaths in 2012.
However the report warns that these gains are under serious threat from the difficulties reaching the three million people – a third of all new TB cases – who are missed each year by health systems.
WHO Director of the Global TB Programme, Dr Mario Raviglione, said: “Quality TB care for millions worldwide has driven down TB deaths but far too many people are still missing out on such care and are suffering as a result. They are not diagnosed, or not treated, or information on the quality of care they receive is unknown.”
The other threat to TB reduction is multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), which must be addressed as a public health crisis according to the report’s authors. There is currently a huge gap between the number of people who are getting ill with MDR-TB and the number of people who are diagnosed and enrolled on treatment.
Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, Dr Lucica Ditiu, commented on the findings of the report: “The fact that more than 16,000 people with MDR-TB are on waiting lists for treatment is cause for global alarm. These people are not only suffering, but dying unnecessarily, transmitting disease and very likely being subject to stigma. It is also of great concern that 10% of people with MDR-TB have extensively drug-resistant TB, for which treatment options and hope are severely limited.”
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