WHO TB 2019 report: Unprecedented political commitment leads to unprecedented progress

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But with a $3.3 billion shortfall in funding, gaps in treatment and prevention among the most vulnerable still take 4,000 lives a day

For the first time, political commitment “at the highest level” has joined against the world’s deadliest infectious disease, the World Health Organization’s tuberculosis response leader noted today, unveiling the agency’s 2019 Global TB report. The national leaders making that commitment, have united, in turn, she added, with those on the ground, the tuberculosis treatment activists, survivors, and those likeliest to be affected by the failures and successes to find, prevent, and successfully treat the disease.

Data in the report reflect that commitment, WHO Global TB Programme Director Dr Tereza Kasaeva said. In the year that the United Nations held its first high-level meeting to confront, together, the global impacts of tuberculosis, more people received life-saving treatment for tuberculosis than ever, reflecting more effective efforts than ever to find and diagnose people sick with the disease. More than half a million more people were treated for tuberculosis than in the year before. About a 100,000 more lives were saved. More people living with HIV, a population for whom TB remains the leading cause of death, were able to access preventive treatment. Efforts to catalogue and respond to the catastrophic economic impacts of tuberculosis, on individuals, their families and their communities were aided by more national tuberculosis programs formally surveying those impacts.

Advances in Europe and in countries with some of the highest rates of tuberculosis illnesses and deaths have put some places on track to reach goals set to eliminate the disease as a global health threat in the next decade.

But with investments in research, health system, outreach, screening, diagnosis and treatment still falling $3.3 billion short of $10.1 billion estimated to be needed for comprehensive efforts to meet those goals globally, about 4,000 people continue to die daily from an ancient, preventable, curable disease, speakers at today’s report release noted. And while improved links to care have enabled access to preventive tuberculosis treatment to more people living with HIV, access has not improved for others at heightened risks of tuberculosis illness — including small children sharing households with sick family members.

With increasing amounts of available data, the World Health Organization’s annual tuberculosis report has become “an essential handbook” for everyone, from doctors and nurses, policy makers and activists, patients and family,  involved in responding to the disease, Dr. Kasaeva said.

“We can and we must do better,” she added. “There has never been a better opportunity. If not now, when? If not us, who?”

3 thoughts on “WHO TB 2019 report: Unprecedented political commitment leads to unprecedented progress

  1. Jim

    Great news. Nice article.

    Can’t wait to read the latest report. I will be asking these questions as I read.

    Are the new case detection rates keeping up with population growth or are they basically flat line? What is the case detection percentage?

    How many MDR TB cases and how many are successfully treated? Is it still around 500,000 EVERY year?

    How many people are accessing the new Xpert diagnostic machines? How much money has been spent on them and what proportion of TB cases are diagnosed through them?

    Is it really about the money or the strategy? Would more money solve the problem if the strategy is the same as has been used over the past 20 years?

  2. Ann

    Regarding improved numbers for treatment and detection, in this first year following the UN High Level Meeting on TB, I hope that the improvements reflect an actual expansion treatment and prevention reach, and not simply improved reporting.

    None-the-less, it is fantastic to see increased attention to and prioritization of TB globally.

  3. Pingback: COVID-19 related lockdowns projected to stall TB detection and treatment leading to increased incidence, deaths | Science Speaks: Global ID News

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