Tuberculosis claimed 3 lives per minute in 2015: WHO

Tuberculosis is killing more people than thought, yet governments are not doing enough to bring the debilitating infectious disease under control, the World Health Organisation has said. The latest WHO figures show TB has been taking a much greater toll in India than previously believed. The disease claims the lives of 1.8 million people worldwide each year, not the 1.5 million it was previously thought.

Drug-resistant TB, which is more difficult and very expensive to treat with combinations of the latest antibiotics, has also risen, to more than half a million cases globally. Dr Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO, warned that much more needed to be done if the world was to have any hope of stopping the disease in its tracks.

The UN has set a target of cutting TB deaths by 90% and cases of the disease by 80% between 2015 and 2030. Unlike Aids and malaria, most TB cases are not in the poorest countries so there is less funding available from the rich nations, which donate through conduits like the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria only to the poorest – even though they face the threat of the disease which spreads in water droplets and cannot be confined to specific countries in an age of global travel.

India has about a quarter of all the cases in the world, followed by Indonesia and then China, which have about 10% each. Nigeria and Pakistan each account for 5% of cases and South Africa has a little less.

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