In 2010, 8,8 million people fell ill with TB and 1,4 million died, both marking a notable decline over prior years, the United Nations health agency said in releasing its 2011 Global Tuberculosis Control Report.
“The findings reflect a significant milestone for global health,” said Dr Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO’s Stop TB Department.
“But history teaches that we cannot be complacent about TB. The international community therefore must not perceive these achievements as job done.”
TB is a worldwide pandemic, with about a third of the world’s population infected with the bacteria, although only a small portion ever develop the disease.
The WHO has revised its estimates to show that the absolute number of cases has been on a decline since 2006, not on a slight rise as previously reported. The number of people ill with TB peaked at 9 million in 2005.
The death toll from TB peaked at 1,8 million in 2003.
The WHO officials attributed the decline to better data collection around the world; increased funding in China for addressing TB; better prevention and care in the former countries of the Soviet Union and Latin America as their standard of living improves; and a drop-off of infection in Africa, which had peaked with the HIV epidemic.
Although many advances have been made in increasing access to diagnostic technology, clinics and treatment around the world, countries pay for some 86% of all anti-TB funding and continue to struggle with funding gaps.
With that in mind, global health experts warned against complacency. — Reuters.