GENEVA – In 2014, tuberculosis (TB) killed 1.5 million people, 400,000 of whom were HIV-positive, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday, ranking the disease alongside HIV as a leading killer worldwide.
WHO said in a report that the fight against TB is paying off, however, with this year’s death rate nearly half of what it was in 1990.
According to the WHO’s Global Tuberculosis Report 2015, most of the improvement came since 2000, the year the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) were established. In all, effective diagnosis and treatment saved 43 million lives between 2000 and 2015.
Worldwide, TB incidence has fallen 1.5 percent per year since 2000, for a total reduction of 18 percent.
The report highlighted the need to close detection and treatment gaps, fill funding shortfalls, and develop new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines.
Global advances included the achievement of the MDG that called for halting and reversing TB incidence by 2015. The goal was reached globally and in 16 of the 22 high-burden countries that collectively account for 80 percent of cases.
“The report shows that TB control has had a tremendous impact in terms of lives saved and patients cured,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan.
“These advances are heartening, but if the world is to end this epidemic, it needs to scale up services and, critically, invest in research,” she added.
“Ending the TB epidemic is now part of the Sustainable Development Goal agenda,” said Eric Goosby, UN Special Envoy on Tuberculosis.
“If we want to achieve it, we’ll need far more investment at a level befitting such a global threat. We’ll also need progress on universal health coverage and poverty alleviation. We want the most vulnerable communities worldwide to gain first, not last, in our efforts,” he added.