The world has waged an aggressive fight against TB. According to WHO, the tuberculosis rate has nearly halved since 1990. Most of the gains occurred since 2000 with effective diagnosis and treatment saving 43 million lives between 2000 and 2015. Worldwide, TB incidence has fallen 1.5% per year since 2000, for a total reduction of 18%.
Many governments worldwide have large-scale and sustainable programs providing basic TB care in their primary health services. These programs provide solid foundations and models for others struggling to get ahead of this epidemic. Countries with high TB-HIV burdens are also mounting a solid response to the joint epidemics by scaling-up prevention and care.
While these results are encouraging, the fact remains that 1.5 million people died from TB in 2014. TB is now the leading cause of death, surpassing HIV. We can prevent, treat and cure TB. But we can’t do so just by saying it. We need better coordination to effectively use existing resources. And we need to find new resources to not only prevent this disease from shattering lives, but also invest in research that will enable us to save more lives.
Simply put, if we want to achieve an end to TB deaths and to the epidemic altogether, we’ll need more investments. We’ll also need progress on universal health coverage and poverty alleviation.
4,100 deaths a day from TB is a shocking figure and we should not be immune to the shock. We need the political will necessary to turn the tide on TB. We must recognize the urgency and act.