TB threat "bigger than previously thought", says WHO

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A tuberculosis testing machine in South Africa. Photo: The Global Fund/John Rae

Tuberculosis is a far bigger threat to life than previously thought and the global effort to beat it is "dismal", UN health experts have announced.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), countries need to act much faster on prevention, detection and treatment of the disease, which killed 1.8 million people last year.

Global goals agreed by the international community include a 90 per cent reduction in TB deaths by 2030.

Daniel Johnson has more.

Tuberculosis claimed 1.8 million lives in 2015, that's more victims than from AIDS and malaria combined.

Hence the call for action from governments by World Health Organization (WHO) chief Dr Margaret Chan who described the global response to TB as "dismal".

She said that "without a massive scale-up of efforts", countries will continue to "run behind" the deadly epidemic, which is airborne and usually affects the lungs.

The WHO announcement that the threat from TB is higher than previous estimates reflects new data from India.

The Asian giant tops the list of six countries that account for 60 per cent of the world's TB burden, ahead of Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa.

One of the major problems identified by WHO is massive under-reporting of TB.

This is clear from data showing that of the estimated 10.4 million new cases last year, only 60 per cent were detected.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1’02″

 

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