Deaths from tuberculosis fell last year over previous years, but progress against the disease isn’t fast enough to reach global goals, a new report by the World Health Organisation says.
The global goal for End TB Strategy targets reducing deaths from TB by 80% by the year 2030.
But TB continues to be the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent worldwide, WHO said in the Global Tuberculosis Report, launched on Monday.
“TB is still, tragically, the world’s most deadly infection. And yet, efforts to curb this ancient disease remain woefully under-resourced,” said Mel Spigelman, president and chief executive of TB Alliance.
“We need new tools—new drugs, diagnostics and vaccines—to meet the goals of the End TB Strategy. The current, decades-old tools will not suffice.”
In 2016, some 1.3 million people died from TV without having any HIV infection. An estimated 10.4 million new cases were recorded.
For HIV positive people, TB continues to be a leading cause of death in particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
Strains of the disease resistant to drugs remains a serious concern.
Last year, around 600,000 cases of TB were found to be resistant to the most effective first-line drug for treating the disease.
Some 490,000 of those cases were resistant to more than one drug.
The WHO report notes new treatments available for children have helped but many children with the disease are still left out of treatment.
Between 2015 and 2016, the number of children aged less than five years started on TB preventive treatment rose by 85%
But more than 1.3 million children are eligible for treatment, and 13 out of every 100 of them are left out.
“TB Alliance is helping to fill the drug pipeline with new chemical entities and novel combinations of medicines that show promise,” said Spigelman.
“We are inching closer to having better, less toxic, simpler and affordable TB cures, but a faster pace would save many more lives. All of us in this effort need to embrace the urgency that TB should inspire.”