News Releases

WHO Warns in TB Report that 3 Million Escape Diagnosis

23 October 2013

London – A report by the World Health Organization warns that although new TB cases are falling worldwide, about three million people each year are escaping diagnosis by healthcare facilities and not getting the treatment they need.

“Quality TB care for millions worldwide has driven down TB deaths,” said Mario Raviglione, WHO Director of the Global TB Programme. “But far too many people are still missing out on such care and are suffering as a result. They are not diagnosed, or not treated, or information on the quality of care they receive is unknown.”

WHO estimates in its Global tuberculosis report 2013 that the three million people who are currently undiagnosed by health systems account for one third of all those falling ill with TB every year. About three quarters of the three million missed cases are concentrated in 12 countries.

The report was released by the WHO on Wednesday in London and Geneva.

Reaching the missed cases is among the report’s five priority actions to accelerate progress towards 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Other areas include: addressing multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) as a public health crisis; accelerating the response to TB/HIV; increasing financing to close all resource gaps and ensuring rapid adoption of innovations.

The report said the response to testing and treating all those affected by multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) is inadequate. WHO estimated that 450,000 fell ill with MDR-TB in 2012 alone, with China, India and Russia carrying the highest burden of the disease.

Other key findings of the report point out that by 2012, TB mortality rate had been reduced by 45% since 1990, making the MDG target to reduce deaths by 50% by 2015 achievable.

“The Global TB Report highlights the very big gains the global community has made in the fight against tuberculosis,” said Osamu Kunii, Head of the Strategy, Investment and Impact Division of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. “We are now at a crucial moment where we cannot afford to let these gains go into reverse. We need the commitment of the international community to address a significant funding gap to fight this disease.”

Today, two thirds of international donor financing for TB is provided by the Global Fund. By July 2013, Global Fund financing has cumulatively supported detection and treatment of 11 million smear-positive cases of TB, up from 9.7 million at the end of 2012. The number of people treated for multidrug-resistant TB grew to 88,000 from 69,000 through Global-Fund supported programs.