Reduction of TB Prevalence Achievable: WHO
NewsDay (Zimbabwe) (10.30.12)

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently stated that the world is on track to meet the goal of reducing global tuberculosis (TB) prevalence by 50 percent in the next three years. WHO’s Stop TB Department Director Mario Raviglione declared that without TB treatment, 20 million people would have died. “In the space of 17 years, 51 million people have been successfully treated and cared for. Globally, 40 percent of TB patients had a documented HIV test result, and 79 percent of HIV-positive people received co-trimoxazole, an antibiotic preventive therapy in 2011. Without that treatment, 20 million people would have died.”

However, the WHO report warned of several new drawbacks affecting TB treatment. One was that last year, there were an estimated 8.7 million new TB cases and 1.4 million deaths, of which 430,000 were among people co-infected with HIV. Also, a $1.4 billion funding gap exists for research, and a shortfall of $3 billion per year exists for TB care and control between the years 2013 through 2015, which could have dire consequences for TB control, according to the report. The report also stated that Asia and Africa continued to bear the highest burden of TB, with India and China accounting for nearly 40 percent of the world’s TB cases. Approximately 80 percent of TB cases among people living with HIV are in Africa.

The report noted the particular concern of the slow progress of the response to multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR TB). A total of 3.7 percent of new cases and 20 percent of previously treated cases were estimated to have MDR TB. In 2011, WHO noted that Zimbabwe was ranked 17th out of 22 high-burden TB countries in the world. The report declared that WHO is calling for “targeted international donor funding and continued investments by countries themselves to safeguard recent gains and ensure continued progress.”

12 December 2012
Translation / Edition: Admin