15-10-2007 - 10 facts about tuberculosis
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Tuberculosis (TB) is contagious and spreads through the air. If not treated, each person with active TB can infect on average 10 to 15 people a year.
Two billion people, equal to one third of the world’s total population, are infected with TB bacilli, the microbes that cause TB. One in every 10 of those people will become sick with active TB in his or her lifetime. People living with HIV are at a much greater risk.
A total of 1.6 million people died from TB in 2005, equal to about 4400 deaths a day. TB is a disease of poverty, affecting mostly young adults in their most productive years. The vast majority of TB deaths are in the developing world, with more than half occurring in Asia.
TB is a leading killer among people living with HIV, who have weakened immune systems. About 200 000 people with HIV die from TB every year, most of them in Africa.
There were 8.8 million new TB cases in 2005, of which 80% were in just 22 countries. Per capita, global TB incidence rates are now stable or falling in all six WHO regions. But the total number of cases is still rising in the African, Eastern Mediterranean and South East Asian regions.
TB is a worldwide pandemic. Although the highest rates per capita are in Africa (28% of all TB cases), half of all new cases are in six Asian countries (Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines).
Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) is a form of TB that does not respond to the standard treatments using first-line drugs. MDR-TB is present in virtually all countries recently surveyed by WHO and its partners.
About 450 000 new MDR-TB cases are estimated to occur every year. The highest occurrence rates of MDR-TB are in China and the countries of the former Soviet Union. Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) occurs when resistance to second-line drugs develops. It is extremely difficult to treat and cases have been confirmed in South Africa and worldwide.
WHO’s Stop TB Strategy aims to reach all patients and achieve the target under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG): to reduce by 2015 the prevalence of and deaths due to TB by 50% relative to 1990 and reverse the trend in incidence. The strategy emphasizes the need for proper health systems and the importance of effective primary health care to address the TB epidemic.
The Global Plan to Stop TB 2006-2015, launched January 2006, aims to achieve the MDG target with an investment of US$ 56 billion. This represents a three-fold increase in investment from 2005. The estimated funding gap is US$ 31 billion.