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Previous WHO strategy to eliminate tuberculosis before failure?

Previous WHO strategy to eliminate tuberculosis before failure?


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Tuberculosis cases declined slightly, but still more than 10 million new infections

By 2035, tuberculosis should be eliminated worldwide, according to the plan of the World Health Organization (WHO). The 2017 World Tuberculosis Report now published clarifies the successes already achieved in this way and where the problems in combating tuberculosis lie. Because more than 10 million people still contract the infectious disease every year and over 1.6 million die from the consequences of tuberculosis.

By 2030, deaths from tuberculosis are expected to decrease by 90 percent and new infections to decrease by 80 percent. But "overall, the latest picture shows a still high burden of illness and progress that is not fast enough to achieve the goals or close the gaps in care," warns the WHO. If efforts are not intensified significantly, the fight against tuberculosis threatens to fail.

Tuberculosis the deadliest infectious disease

Furthermore, tuberculosis is the ninth cause of death worldwide and remains the most common cause of death from a single infectious agent. According to the WHO, in 2016 there were an estimated 1.3 million deaths from tuberculosis among HIV-negative people (compared to 1.7 million in 2000) and another 374,000 deaths among HIV-positive people. In total, an estimated 10.4 million people were diagnosed with tuberculosis in 2016, 90 percent of whom were adults.

Gaps in diagnosis and therapy

According to the WHO, most TBC deaths could be prevented by early diagnosis and adequate treatment. "Millions of people are diagnosed and successfully treated for tuberculosis each year, preventing millions of deaths (53 million in the period 2000 to 2016)," reports the WHO. The success rate for treatments is around 83 percent, but there are still large gaps in the recognition and access to therapy.

Resistant pathogens pose a significant problem

Furthermore, drug-resistant tuberculosis is a growing threat, according to the WHO. The report shows a slight increase in the number of cases reported. The treatment success rates for these diseases are much lower and only reach 54 percent. According to information from the WHO, around 600,000 new infections with drug-resistant tuberculosis were recorded in 2016.

More than half of the infections in five countries

Regionally, 56 percent of all tuberculosis infections occurred in five countries worldwide: India, Indonesia, China, the Philippines and Pakistan. At the same time, over 50 percent of infections with drug-resistant pathogens were also found. Although the number of new cases falls on average by around two percent per year, this value would have to be improved to four to five percent per year by 2020 in order to reach the first milestones of the strategy, according to the WHO communication.

Insufficient progress in the fight against tuberculosis

"How can it be that the most deadly infectious disease in the world is curable, but almost 1.7 million people died of it last year," said the critical question of the aid organization "Doctors Without Borders" about the data of the WHO report. In addition, four out of five people with resistant tuberculosis were not diagnosed with the disease and only half of those affected were cured. Although two newer drugs to treat resistant tuberculosis have been available and could help for five years. However, less than five percent of the people who need these drugs actually receive them, the aid organization criticizes. Countries with many tuberculosis patients, in particular, have to face the challenge and improve access to diagnosis and treatment, according to Doctors Without Borders. This also applies to new forms of treatment for resistant tuberculosis. (fp)

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