World Tuberculosis Day 2014, 24 March, is themed “Reach the 3 million”. TB is curable, but current efforts to find, treat and cure everyone who gets ill with the disease are not sufficient. Of the 9 million people a year who get sick with TB, a third of them are “missed” by health systems.
Many of these 3 million people live in the world’s poorest, most vulnerable communities or are among marginalized populations such as migrant workers, refugees and internally displaced persons, prisoners, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities and drug users.
WHO and the Stop TB Partnership, hosted at WHO, are together promoting World TB Day. World TB Day provides the opportunity for affected persons and the communities in which they live, governments civil society organizations, health-care providers, and international partners to call for further action to reach the 3 million. All partners can help take forward innovative approaches to ensure that everyone suffering from TB has access to TB diagnosis, treatment and cure.
The burden of tuberculosis
World TB Day is an opportunity to raise awareness about the burden of tuberculosis (TB) worldwide and the status of TB prevention and control efforts. The Day is also an occasion to mobilize political and social commitment for further progress.
Progress towards global targets for reductions in TB cases and deaths in recent years has been impressive: TB mortality has fallen over 45% worldwide since 1990, and incidence is declining. New TB tools such as rapid diagnostics are helping transform response to the disease and new life-saving drugs are being introduced.
But the global burden remains huge and significant challenges persist.
- In 2012, there were an estimated 8.6 million new cases of TB and 1.3 million people died from TB.
- Over 95% of TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Poor communities and vulnerable groups are most affected, but this airborne disease is a risk to all.
- TB is among the top 3 causes of death for women aged 15 to 44.
- There were an estimated 500 000 cases and 74 000 deaths among children in 2012.
- Around 3 million people (equal to 1 in 3 people falling ill with TB) are currently being ‘missed’ by health systems.
- There is slow progress in tackling multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB): 3 out of 4 MDR-TB cases still remain without a diagnosis, and around 16 000 MDR-TB cases reported to WHO in 2012 were not put on treatment.
- Provision of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for TB patients known to be living with HIV needs to increase to meet WHO’s recommendation that all TB patients living with HIV promptly receive ART.