A World Without Tuberculosis

A curable disease that kills millions every year? That’s TB, and we have the means to stop it.

Tuberculosis

In the history of humankind, tuberculosis (TB) has killed more people than any other disease. Today, TB is the world’s leading cause of death among all infectious diseases.  New figures from WHO estimate 9.6 million people developed TB in 2014, with 1.5 million people dying of this treatable disease. This means that TB kills nearly three people every minute, 4,100 people a day.

While we still have a very long way to go in the battle against TB, progress is being made. Between 2000 and 2014, 43 million lives were saved worldwide through diagnosis and treatment, TB related deaths dropped 47% between 1990 and 2000, and TB incidence fell by an average of 1.5% per year since 2000. All of which contributed to the achievement of Millennium Development Goal 6—to halt and reverse the global TB epidemic.

Tuberculosis is a curable disease, but every year 3.6 million people are missed by health systems, and many who test positive for TB either fail to get or complete treatment. Of the 9.6 million living with TB, an estimated 480,000 people live with a more aggressive and difficult to treat form of TB called multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB).

Compared to many other global health challenges, tuberculosis receives far less global political attention. The result has been low prioritization on the global health agenda, significant shortfalls in funding and millions of unnecessary deaths. Today, there is an estimated global financing gap of US$ 1.4 billion for TB treatment and care and an additional shortfall of US$ 1.3 billion for needed research and development activities. Yet, investing in TB is one of the world’s “best buys” in health, yielding up to a US$ 43 return on each dollar spent through improved health and increased productivity.

The Office of the Special Envoy will work alongside the World Health Organization, Stop TB Partnership, the Office of the Special Envoy on Tuberculosis and others, to achieve the benchmarks set forth in the End TB Strategy—an aggressive strategy with the goal of ending the global epidemic by 2030. The Strategy brings together critical interventions to ensure that all people with TB have equal access to high-quality diagnosis, treatment, care and prevention, without facing catastrophic expenses or social repercussions. It emphasizes that driving down TB deaths and illness will depend on countries taking a lead role in addressing the key obstacles before them and working to break these barriers to increase access.