Washington – Tuberculosis joined HIV as a leading cause of death worldwide, according to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO). Nevertheless, the disease’s mortality has dropped to half since 1990.
The report, released on Wednesday, states that 1.5 million people died from tuberculosis last year, saying that most of those deaths could have been prevented. In 2014, tuberculosis was responsible for the deaths of 890,000 men, 480,000 women and 140,000 children.
On the other hand, HIV killed nearly 1.2 million people, including 400,000 people that had HIV but died from tuberculosis, last year.
“Investments in TB are a fraction of the amount that is invested in HIV,” said Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO’s global TB program, according to The Wall Street Journal. “That shows a lack of consideration for what this disease is, how many people it kills and the fact that it is curable.”
There is an urgent need to improve the timing of detection and treatment of tuberculosis, as to develop new vaccines and drugs to fight the disease. Since 2000, there has been an improvement, after the establishment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The three countries with most cases are India, China, and Russia.The report says that 37.5 percent of tuberculosis cases went underdiagnosed or weren’t reported to authorities.
Also, people suffering from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), a public health issue worldwide that threatens progress made in the fight against the disease, were underdiagnosed as well, with 123,000 cases reported of the total 480,000 estimated of 2014.
Proper diagnosis and its following treatment are crucial for saving lives, as it has saved 43 million people between 2000 and 2015. These advances are giving hope to doctors, but in order to end the global epidemic there is a need for investing in research and to improve current services.
The MDG proposed to reduce the tuberculosis incidence by 2015, reaching the goal globally, and in 16 of the 22 high-burden countries that gather the 80% of the cases. Around the globe, tuberculosis incidence dropped 1.5 percent per year since 2000, meaning a total reduction of 18 percent by now.
It’s time to balance priorities
Even though some progress has been made, experts from the WHO claim that they are far from being enough. The fact that 4,400 people die every day from tuberculosis is unacceptable living in a moment when you can cure almost everyone suffering from the disease, WHO doctors argue.
According to The Wall Street Journal, $21.7 billion were invested globally in 2014 investigating HIV/AIDS by countries with epidemics of the disease. On the other hand, the budget for tuberculosis was from $6.6 billion in 2014.
“More people are dying from TB than HIV any way you count it. The reason is because of the difference in investment. TB has continued to kill people, but we have not responded to it with resources,” concluded Eric Goosby, a U.N. special envoy on tuberculosis, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Source: World Health Organization