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WHO Report Says Efforts to Confront Tuberculosis Are Too Slow
Avert Organization
March 20, 2008

A new World Health Organisation report says efforts to confront TB are happening far too slowly.

The report, entitled ‘Global Tuberculosis Control 2008 – Surveillance, Planning, Financing’ states that the pace at which new tuberculosis cases are detected worldwide is slowing down. The 12th annual report to be published by WHO, reveals that in detecting new tuberculosis cases the rate of increase was 3% from 2005 to 2006, compared with the previous average of 6% recorded from 2001 to 2005.

The report also found that of the 14.4 million cases of tuberculosis worldwide in 2006, 700,000 of those cases occurred among people who were HIV-positive, and among these, there were 200,000 deaths.

The link between HIV and TB was demonstrated in the report with the findings that the majority of TB cases were from regions where HIV prevalence is also very high. 83% of the total TB cases reported were from Africa, Southeast Asia and Western Pacific regions, with African regions having the world's highest incidence rate per capita.

While 84.7% of reported TB cases have successfully completed treatment - a figure very close to WHO’s target figure of 85% - improvements are still needed. WHO’s treatment programmes have not yet had a major impact on preventing TB transmission around the world, and while TB rates had fallen in some regions and stabilised in Europe, they had not in Africa and instead have increased at least fivefold since the 1990’s.

With funding being another key issue, the much needed increases in budgets are not happening in the majority of countries most heavily affected by the disease.

With TB being the single most important cause of death for people living with HIV, experts and critics have reacted strongly to the report by saying how vitally important it is that more is now done to tackle the disease.

Cases need to be detected early in order to interrupt transmission and provide a better chance of cure; this is something that, going by the report, is not happening.

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