Fewer people are falling ill and dying from TB (tuberculosis) but WHO says countries are still not doing enough to end the epidemic by 2030.

In its 2018 Global TB Report, the world organization said countries need to urgently accelerate their response.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious disease, although global efforts have averted an estimated 54 million TB deaths since 2000.

WHO estimates that a quarter of the world’s population has TB infection

WHO’s 2018 Global TB Report, released in New York, calls for an unprecedented mobilization of national and international commitments.

Leaders from India, the Russian Federation, Rwanda, and South Africa are making efforts to urgently wipe out the disease, WHO said.

WHO Director-General Dr.Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus feels, “We must capitalize on this new momentum and act together to end this terrible disease.”

In 2017, 10 million people fell ill with TB, and 1.6 million died from the disease (including 0.3 million among people with HIV). Eight countries account for two thirds of the total, with India leading the count, followed by, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh and South Africa.

To meet the global target of ending TB by 2030, countries need to urgently accelerate their response – including by increasing domestic and international funding to fight the disease.

Status of the TB epidemic

  • Overall, TB deaths have decreased over the past year.
  • In 2017, there were 1.6 million deaths (including among 3,00,000 HIV-positive people).
  • Since 2000, a 44% reduction in TB deaths occurred among people with HIV compared with a 29% decrease among HIV-negative people.
  • Globally, an estimated 10 million people developed TB in 2017.
  • The number of new cases is falling by 2% per year.
  • Faster reductions have occurred in Europe (5% per year) and Africa (4% per year) between 2013 and 2017.
  • Some countries are moving faster than others – as evidenced in Southern Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
  • Drug-resistant TB remains a global public health crisis.
  • In 2017, abut 5,58,000 people were estimated to have developed disease resistant to at least rifampicin – the most effective first-line TB drug.
  • The vast majority of these people had multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), that is, combined resistance to rifampicin and isoniazid (another key first-line TB medicine).

Challenges & opportunities     

  • Underreporting and under-diagnosis of TB cases remains a major challenge.
  • Ten countries accounted for 80% of this gap, with India, Indonesia and Nigeria topping the list.

“It is unacceptable that millions lose their lives, and many more suffer daily from this preventable and curable disease,” said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme.

“We need to join forces to root out this disease that has a devastating social and economic impact on those who are “left behind”, whose human rights and dignity are limited, and who struggle to access care. The time for action is now.”

WHO is guiding national and global actions to reach everyone with care, including those with TB, through a transformative health agenda and push towards Universal Health Coverage.