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Big strides made in fighting tuberculosis: WHO

The 2015 Millennium Development Goal of halting and reversing TB incidence has been achieved globally, in all six WHO regions.

Updated:October 23, 2014, 5:52 PM IST
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Big strides made in fighting tuberculosis: WHO
The 2015 Millennium Development Goal of halting and reversing TB incidence has been achieved globally, in all six WHO regions.

Paris: The known tally of people with tuberculosis rose last year but overall "major progress" is being made in rolling back the disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

"The 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halting and reversing TB incidence has been achieved globally, in all six WHO regions and in most of the 22 high TB-burden countries," it said.

Of last year's nine million new TB cases, India accounted for 24 per cent and China for 11 per cent.

More effort is needed, though, it said: "The death toll from the disease is still unacceptably high."

In 2013, there were nine million new cases of tuberculosis and 1.5 million deaths worldwide, including 360,000 people co-infected with HIV, the agency said in an annual TB report.

The total marked an increase from 2012, but only because the first detailed figures were now available for Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, and some other countries.

In 2012, an estimated 8.6 million people worldwide were infected with TB and 1.3 million lives were lost, according to last year's report.

"These large numbers of TB cases and death notwithstanding, 21 years on from the... Declaration of TB as a global public health emergency, major progress has been made," said the update.

"Globally, the TB mortality rate (deaths per 100,000 people per year) has fallen by 45 per cent since 1990 and TB incidence (new cases per 100,000 people per year) are decreasing in most parts of the world."

The report added: "TB is slowly declining each year and it is estimated that 37 million lives were saved between 2000 and 2013 through effective diagnosis and treatment."

Good news includes new diagnostic tools to get patients on to treatment faster, and more investment in drug research and development.

"For the first time in four decades, new TB drugs are starting to emerge from the pipeline, and combination regimens that include new compounds are being tested in clinical trials," the report said.

"There are several TB vaccines in Phase I or Phase II trials. For the time being, however, a vaccine that is effective in preventing TB in adults remains elusive."

The report turned the spotlight on the campaign against multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB strains that thwart frontline antibiotics and are extremely expensive to treat.

The proportion of new MDR TB cases was stable last year at 3.5 per cent, though "much higher levels of resistance and poor treatment outcomes are of major concern in some parts of the world," it said.

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