WHO Raises Estimate of Worldwide TB Cases

WHO's Global Tuberculosis Report 2014 shows 9 million people developed tuberculosis in 2013 and 1.5 million died.

The World Health Organization raised its estimate of the number of worldwide tuberculosis cases by about 500,000, announcing in its Global Tuberculosis Report 2014 that 9 million people developed TB in 2013 and 1.5 million died.

The report said the mortality rate from TB is still falling and has dropped by 45 percent since 1990. "Following a concerted effort by countries, by WHO, and by multiple partners, investment in national surveys and routine surveillance efforts has substantially increased. This is providing us with much more and better data, bringing us closer and closer to understanding the true burden of tuberculosis," said Dr. Mario Raviglione, director of WHO's Global TB Programme.

Although higher, the revised figures fall within the upper limit of previous WHO estimates. The report confirmed TB is the second-biggest killer disease from a single infectious agent, and about 3 million people who fall ill from it are still being missed by health systems each year either because they are not diagnosed or because they are diagnosed but not reported.

Insufficient funding is hampering efforts to combat the global epidemic, according to the report, which said an estimated $8 billion is needed each year for a full response but there is currently an annual shortfall of $2 billion. "The multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) crisis continues, with an estimated 480 000 new cases in 2013. Worldwide, about 3.5% of all people who developed TB in 2013 had this form of the disease, which is much harder to treat and has significantly poorer cure rates. While the estimated percentage of new TB cases that have MDR-TB globally remains unchanged, there are severe epidemics in some regions, particularly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In many settings around the world, the treatment success rate is alarmingly low. Furthermore, extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), which is even more expensive and difficult to treat than MDR-TB, has now been reported in 100 countries," according to WHO.

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