Progress in fighting TB threatened by lack of funds

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A patient being treated for tuberculosis (World Health Organization)

Progress already made in fighting tuberculosis is threatened by a lack of funding to tackle strains of the disease that are resistant to drug treatment.

This warning comes from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. They say that at least $1.6 billion are needed annually for treatment and prevention of tuberculosis.

The Director-General of WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan says that between 1995 and 2011, fifty-one million people were successfully treated for tuberculosis using the agency's strategy, saving 21 million lives.

However, she warns that despite successes in fighting the disease, including by improved diagnosis and vaccines, the emergence of multi-drug resistant TB continues to pose a serious threat.

"Worldwide, nearly 4 per cent of people newly ill with TB are resistant to multiple drugs right at the beginning. And this means that MDR TB is being transmitted directly from one person to another. In some countries as 35 per cent of new cases have MDR-TB at the start. This gives you an idea of the powder keg we are sitting on. We must learn from countries that have contained the threat and urgently support those where MDR-TB is nearly the norm."

World TB Day is observed on 24 March to commemorate the date in 1882 when German scientist, Dr. Robert Koch announced the discovery of the bacteria that causes tuberculosis.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1'32"

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