Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, MSc,
Seven million people were diagnosed and treated for tuberculosis in 2018 — a more than 9% increase from 2017 and a step toward meeting one of the milestones in the U.N. plan to end the global tuberculosis epidemic, WHO reported.
Despite this, underfunding and lack of access to care are still putting at-risk populations in jeopardy, WHO said.
According to the report, more people than ever received TB treatment in 2018. WHO also reported that TB deaths decreased from 1.6 million in 2017 to 1.5 million in 2018.
A U.N. political declaration made last year includes a goal to treat 40 million people with TB during the 5-year period from 2018 to 2022.
“Today we mark the passing of the first milestone in the effort to reach people who’ve been missing out on services to prevent and treat TB,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, MSc, said in a statement. “This is proof that we can reach global targets if we join forces together.”
WHO said the TB burden remains high among low-income and marginalized populations. According to the report, 10 million people developed TB in 2018, meaning an estimated 3 million people with TB did not get treatment. Additionally, the report noted an 500,000 new cases of in 2018, with only one in three of these people enrolled in treatment.
“Sustained progress on TB will require strong health systems and better access to services,” Tedros said. “That means a renewed investment in primary health care and a commitment to universal health coverage.”
According to the report, the fight against TB is “chronically underfunded.” WHO estimated a $3.3 billion shortfall for TB prevention and care in 2019 and called for more funding for priority needs, including a new vaccine or effective preventative drug treatment, rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests and shorter treatment regimens.
“WHO is working closely with countries, partners and civil society to accelerate the TB response,” Tereza Kasaeva, MD, PhD, director of WHO’s Global TB Programme, said in a statement. “Working across different sectors is key if we are to finally get the better of this terrible disease and save lives.” – by Caitlyn Stulpin
Disclosures: Kaseava and Tedros reports no relevant financial disclosures.