2017 Global TB Report: A Story of Dead and the Missing

New TB numbers show little improvement. Too many died, or did not get adequate care.

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Today, WHO released its 2017 Global Tuberculosis Report. The news is not great. 

The report shows little improvement since the last year. In 2016, there were an estimated 10.4 million new TB cases worldwide. TB continues to rank as the leading infectious killer, and 1.7 million people died from a curable infection during 2016. Of the estimated 10.4 million TB patients, only 6.3 million patients were detected and officially notified in 2016, leaving a gap of 4.1 million. These 4.1 million patients were either not diagnosed, or managed in the private/informal sectors. The quality of TB care provided to these 4.1 million 'missing' patients is unknown, but all evidence points to poor quality of care.

It is depressing that TB continues to suffer from limited financing by high burden countries. For TB care and prevention, investments in low and middle-income countries fall almost US$ 2.3 billion short of the US$ 9.2 billion needed in 2017. In addition, at least an extra US$ 1.2 billion per year is required to accelerate the R&D of new vaccines, diagnostics, and medicines.

So, unless there is serious political commitment, funding and execution, it will be impossible to meet the End TB targets. Hopefully, the upcoming Global Ministerial Conference on TB in Moscow will galvanize countries to wake up and do more to end the TB epidemic. 

Sadly, India continues to bear the brunt of the epidemic, with nearly 2.8 million estimated TB cases in 2016, and 147,000 cases of MDR-TB. In 2016, 435,000 Indian lives were lost to tuberculosis. At this rate, unless there is serious investment and commitment by the Indian government, India will not eliminate TB by 2025. I hope India will step up and show leadership at the Moscow conference in November, as well as the first UN General Assembly high-level meeting on TB in 2018. The TB field desperately needs some good news, and India has the potential to turn the tide!

Madhukar Pai

Associate Director, McGill International TB Centre

I am a Professor and a Canada Research Chair in Epidemiology & Global Health at McGill University, Montreal. I serve as the Associate Director of the McGill International TB Centre. URL: http://www.paitbgroup.org/


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about 4 years ago

Thanks for your very informative post. I agree that we need to deal with eradication of tuberculosis on war footing. Political will, more funds, more R&D, prevention by better shelter, hygiene, nutrition, education and Universal healthcare, better and early diagnosis of TB and MDR TB etc. Your emphasis on notification of disease is most important. Under notification will give us false sense of achievement in TB control.