Staying Focused on TB

Tuberculosis awareness encouraged on World Tuberculosis Day

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) While great strides have been made in combating tuberculosis (TB), it is by no means time to forget about the disease. This is the key message of World Tuberculosis Day, observed on March 24.

Based on new data from 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that after 20 consecutive years of declines, TB is at an all-time low in the United States.  

And according to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Progress towards global targets for reductions in TB cases and deaths in recent years has been impressive: TB mortality has fallen over 40 percent worldwide since 1990, and incidence is declining.”

However, the Stop TB Partnership (a group that operates through the WHO and organizes World TB Day) reports that 4,000 people worldwide still die every day due to TB.

"Research TB risk factors."

The WHO estimates that, in 2011, there were 1.4 million TB deaths and 8.7 million new cases. TB is a bacterial disease spread through the air that attacks the lungs.

Furthermore, according to the WHO, “Over 95 percent of TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Poor communities and vulnerable groups are most affected, but this airborne disease is a risk to all.”

A further concern is the incidence of drug-resistant forms of the disease. The CDC reports that cases of multidrug-resistant TB went up slightly between 2010 and 2011 in the US, from 1.3 percent of cases in 2010 to 1.6 percent of cases in 2011. There were 9,951 total US cases in 2012.

These drug-resistant forms represent a disease that is more difficult to fight and more expensive to treat.

The Stop TB Partnership stresses the need for increased funding to fight TB globally. For the second year in a row, the focus of the 2013 World Tuberculosis Day is the theme “Stop TB in My Lifetime.”

The CDC agrees that even the marked progress in the US does not mean it’s time to slow down the fight, saying, “Although TB prevention and control efforts have averted an estimated more than 200,000 TB cases in the US over the past 20 years, we must remain vigilant against this serious disease.”

As World TB Day is observed this year, the Stop TB Partnership is calling for universal access to TB care, cheap and effective tests and vaccines, quicker treatment for the disease and better funding. 

“TB care delivers – it has a proven track record saving lives and growing economies and is one of the world's best buys in health,” says the partnership.

“However only a few countries have ambitious plans for universal TB coverage and just US$500 million – 6 percent of the overall needs for TB care – come from international sources.”

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 22, 2013
Last Updated:
March 24, 2013