Washington: Tuberculosis kills 4,400 people daily, a number that remains “unacceptably high,” said a World Health Organisation report today that ranked TB alongside HIV as a leading cause of death globally.
The disease killed 1.5 million people last year, despite big strides in treatment and prevention over the past 25 years, said the UN health agency’s Global Tuberculosis Report 2015.
The spread of drug-resistant strains of TB is a key concern, combined with the need for new drug treatments and better access to care for those in need, said the report released in the US capital.
“The number of TB deaths is unacceptably high: with a timely diagnosis and correct treatment, almost all people with TB can be cured,” said the report.
“To reduce this burden, detection and treatment gaps must be addressed, funding gaps closed and new tools developed.”
Across the planet, 9.6 million people were sickened with TB last year, and 12 percent of those new cases were HIV-positive.
More than half of the world’s TB cases were in China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Tuberculosis is a disease caused by a bacterium, called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which typically attacks the lungs but can also affect the kidney, spine and brain.
TB is considered one of the world’s deadliest diseases.
The overall number of cases diagnosed in 2014 was higher than in prior years, but was due to improved detection, not an actual increase in cases, the report said.
Some 3.3 per cent of cases involve multidrug-resistant TB, a level that has remained unchanged in recent years, the report said.
But under-reporting is a key concern. Of 480,000 multidrug-resistant TB cases in 2014, only about one in four (123,000) was detected and reported.
“When it comes to the deadlier forms of the disease — such as multidrug-resistant TB — the news is particularly bleak,” said Grania Brigden, interim medical director of Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) Access Campaign.
“We’re losing ground in the battle to control drug-resistant forms of TB, and without considerable corrective action, the vast majority of people with MDR-TB won’t ever be diagnosed, put on treatment, or cured.”
Brigden urged nations to “scale up drug-resistance testing with affordable point of care tests.