Global TB Epidemic Leveling Off, WHO Reports

The global tuberculosis epidemic has leveled off for the first time since the World Health Organization declared TB a public health emergency in 1993, WHO reported March 22 as its released "The Global Tuberculosis Control Report." The report says the percentage of the world's population struck by TB peaked in 2004 and then held steady in 2005.

"We are currently seeing both the fruits of global action to control TB and the lethal nature of the disease's ongoing burden," United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. "Almost 60 percent of TB cases worldwide are now detected, and out of those, the vast majority are cured. Over the past decade, 26 million patients have been placed on effective TB treatment thanks to the efforts of governments and a wide range of partners. But the disease still kills 4,400 people every day."

WHO noted that while the rate at which people developed TB in 2005 was level or declined slightly from 2004, the actual number of TB cases continued to rise slowly. (This happened because the world's population is expanding.) The pace at which new TB cases developed in 2005, however, was slightly lower than global population growth. Cases in 2005 were 8,787,000, up from 8,718,000 in 2004, and an estimated 1.6 million people died of the disease in 2005. And while funding for TB control rose to $2 billion, an additional $1.1 billion is needed to meet the 2007 funding requirements set by the Global Plan to Stop TB (2006-2015).

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