24 March 2015
CANGE, Haiti – On World TB Day, the Global Fund partnership made an appeal to find, treat and cure all people with tuberculosis, and accelerate recent progress to end a disease that is entirely curable but kills 1.5 million people every year.
Each year, at least 3 million people with TB go undiagnosed or don’t get effective treatment, and among those missed are the most vulnerable in society.
Even more worrisome, there are indications that the scope of TB could get dramatically worse, if emerging strains of drug resistance are not met. A new report by the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Global TB estimates that 75 million people could lose their lives to multi drug-resistant TB over the next 35 years if current trends continue.
Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund, said that global efforts have managed to limit the spread of TB in recent years, through more effective diagnoses and treatment. However, progress is far too slow. Dr. Dybul called for faster progress by focusing efforts on the most vulnerable and where the greatest impact can be achieved.
“We need to go where the infections are and to reach those who are being left behind,” Dr. Dybul said during a visit to a TB clinic in the village of Cange, Haiti.
Among the 3 million who remain unreached are people who are most vulnerable to falling ill with TB, including the very poor, people living with HIV, women and children, migrants, prisoners, refugees, miners, the elderly, ethnic minorities, indigenous populations and drug users.
The Stop TB Partnership said that progress is unacceptably slow – with incidence falling at about 1.5 percent per year between 2000 and 2013. Globally, the TB mortality rate fell by an estimated 45 percent between 1990 and 2013.
In 2013, an estimated 480,000 people developed multidrug-resistant TB, with extensively drug-resistant TB reported by 100 countries. There is slow progress in tackling drug-resistant TB - WHO reports that 3 in 4 drug-resistant TB cases remain without a diagnosis, and only 97,000 patients started multidrug-resistant TB treatment last year.
Despite substantial growth in funding for TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment since 2002, WHO said an annual gap of around US$2 billion still needs to be filled to ensure a full response to the global TB epidemic.
Many countries around the world are strengthening their TB strategic plans and setting new targets to drive down the numbers of deaths and cases of TB, while identifying priorities, best use of domestic resources, and funding gaps for controlling TB.