07 February 2019
NEW DELHI – Preliminary results from a joint initiative to find and treat additional 1.5 million “missing” tuberculosis patients by the end of 2019 show solid progress, with Asia driving the success. Six countries in Asia with the highest burdens of TB in the world have found an additional 450,000 cases of TB in the past year alone, and more than 840,000 additional patients compared with 2015.
Half of the additional TB cases found last year through the initiative, which is supported by the Global Fund, World Health Organization and the Stop TB Partnership, were in India alone. India, which has the world’s largest TB epidemic, has set the ambitious goal of ending TB by 2025, five years ahead of the targets set in the Sustainable Development Goals. The other countries in Asia include Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Pakistan. If current trends continue, Asian countries will find and treat another half a million additional patients during this year, bringing the total of patients under care to more than 4.5 million.
“These results show what can be achieved if we put additional resources into the fight against TB,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. “Countries in Asia have made TB a priority, and India is leading the way in finding and treating new cases. If we are going to win the battle against TB, we need to win the battle in Asia.”
One of the biggest challenges in the fight against TB are the 3.6 million “missing” people with active TB – people who are undiagnosed, unreported and untreated each year, contributing to ongoing transmission. Without treatment, a person with active TB can spread the disease to as many as 15 others.
In 2017, the Global Fund invested an additional US$125 million in 13 countries that account for 75 percent of missing people with TB globally to find an additional 1.5 million cases of people with TB by the end of 2019. While full results and analysis will be made available at the end of the initiative, the early results are a welcome piece of progress against the disease, which has been slower compared to diseases like HIV and malaria.
India will host the kick-off meeting of the Global Fund’s Sixth Replenishment fundraising drive in Delhi 8 February. The Global Fund is seeking to raise at least US$14 billion for the next three years to help save 16 million lives, cut the mortality rate from HIV, TB and malaria in half, and build stronger health systems by 2023.