According to WHO report on Tuesday, the number of people getting sick with tuberculosis ( TB) has considerably decreased for the first time. At the same time, statistical figure showed that the death toll from the the disease is also at the lowest level within the last decade thanks to the progress in countries like China.
Dr. Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO’s Stop TB Department said that the findings reflected a significant milestone for global health, however, we still be take a serious notice of TB and no achievements are satisfied as the job done. He insisted on the vital roles of international community for continuing struggle against this worldwide pandemic.
The number of people ill with TB peaked at 9 million in 2005. One year later, in 2006, TB infected cases saw a decline according to The WHO estimated figure.
In 2010, 8.8 million people fell ill with TB and 1.4 million died, both marking a notable decline over prior years, the United Nations health agency said in releasing its 2011 Global Tuberculosis Control Report.
The death toll from TB peaked at 1.8 million in 2003.
The WHO officials linked the decrease to better data collection across the world; increased funding in China for handling TB; much better treatment and care in the former countries of the Soviet Union and Latin America as their standard of living enhances; along with a drop-off of infection in Africa, which had actually peaked with the HIV epidemic.
The TB bacteria damages patients’ lung tissue, resulting in them to cough up the bacteria, which then spreads through the air and can be consumed by others. If untreated, each person with active TB can infect on average 10 to 15 people a year.
TB is especially common in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Russia.
The countries the WHO especially noted for progress in the fight against the disease were Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania, Brazil and China, which saw a drop of nearly 80 percent to 55,000 TB deaths in 2010 since 1990.
Globally, the TB death rate fallen 40 percent in 2010 compared to 1990, and all regions except Africa were on track to reach a 50 percent death decline by 2015.
CHALLENGE OF Medicine RESISTANCE
Some countries routinely vaccinate kids with Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, made by several firms including Merck & Co Inc. The vaccine does not always protect against TB.
The infection is also treatable by antibiotics, such as isoniazid or Sanofi’s Rifadin, but they must be taken daily for months to be effective.
Because those do not always take the drugs as directed, multidrug-resistant (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR-TB) strains have emerged. Leaving them untreated increases the risk of drug-resistant strains of TB spreading.
In March of this year, the WHO warned that more than 2 million individuals will contract MDR-TB by 2015.
Drug-resistant TB traces remain one of the largest obstacles, as only about 16 percent of patients diagnosed with MDR-TB are in fact getting treatment, said Dr. Katherine Floyd, coordinator of the TB monitoring and evaluation unit at the Stop TB department.
“There is little interest by the industry in developing new drugs in general for antibiotics, but when it comes to TB in particular … they cannot count on making a lot of money off the drugs and therefore don’t invest,” Raviglione said.
While some advances have been built in increasing access to diagnostic technology, clinics and treatment around the world, countries pay for some 86 percent of all anti-TB funding and continue to struggle with funding gaps.
Keeping that in mind, global health experts warned against complacency about the reported improvement.
“We know from the past experience that as soon as you drop the guard, TB comes back,” said USAID’s Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez.