According to a recent Reuters article, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that although TB incidence decreased in 2012, growing drug resistance threatened global progress in controlling the disease. The world was likely to reach the United Nations 2015 goals for cutting 1990’s TB mortality rate by 50 percent and reversing TB incidence. However, health systems missed approximately 3 million TB cases annually, and drug-resistant TB (DR TB) strains threatened progress toward TB goals, according to Mario Raviglione, director of WHO’s Global TB Program.
Insufficient funding and the emergence of DR TB throughout the past decade have hampered the response to the global TB epidemic, which kills more people than any infectious disease other than HIV/AIDS. WHO estimated that 8.6 million people developed TB in 2012 and 1.3 million people died from the disease. A comprehensive response would require $7–8 billion per year through 2015, but Raviglione expected a $2 billion shortfall. However, Raviglione praised new rapid diagnostic tools that detect DR TB and promising clinical trials of new anti-TB drugs and vaccines.
WHO identified “weak links in the TB chain” where poorer countries lacked the capacity to carry out proper detection, diagnoses, and connection of people to quality treatment and care. Most of the 3 million missed cases occurred in 12 countries that included India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and South Africa. The chain of detection and linkage to care did not even exist for many people with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB). Worldwide, countries reported 450,000 new MDR TB cases in 2012; most occurred in China, India, Russia, and 24 other countries. Approximately 16,000 MDR TB-infected people received no treatment and faced long waiting lists for drugs. WHO based its report on data collected from the 197 countries and territories that accounted for more than 99 percent of the world’s TB cases.