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October 23, 2014

World Too Slow to Act on TB

Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”

(New York, USA) – World Lung Foundation (WLF) today welcomed a new report from World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Tuberculosis Report 2014, which points to some progress in the fight against TB but also confirms that there are almost half a million more cases than had been previously estimated. In addition, the report includes calls for more urgent action to fund the diagnosis and treatment of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).

Global tuberculosis report 2014

Commenting on the launch of the report, Dr Neil Schluger, Chief Scientific Officer, World Lung Foundation, said: “The global health community will take the positives from this report, including the higher standard of reporting from several countries, but much of the content is very discouraging. For some time, we have warned that a lack of funding for research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment would impede the global fight against TB. The data contained within the Global Tuberculosis Report 2014 confirms that this is becoming reality.

“Based upon recorded cases, we know that an average of 3.5 per cent of new cases of TB and 20.5 per cent of those previously treated for TB have MDR-TB. More worryingly, 9 percent of these cases are extensively drug-resistant (XDRTB). Just three countries – China, India and the Russian Federation – are responsible for more than half of all MDR-TB cases. In this respect, we have made few inroads in the fight against TB in the past year.

“WHO can rightly point to a long-term downward trend, but that reduction is not accelerating in a way that will enable us to deliver on global targets to defeat TB. Instead, the picture painted by this report shows us a chronic epidemic that doesn’t receive the attention or support it needs, resulting in a million and a half people dying every year from a treatable disease. It’s like Ebola in slow motion.

“We cannot wait any longer; more funding and more research is desperately needed. These data should act as a much-needed wake-up call. We aren’t winning the battle against TB as we would have liked, so we need to redouble our efforts. At World Lung Foundation, we reiterate our calls for a serious injection of commitment and funding to stop the potential public health crisis of uncontrolled MDR-TB.”

Dr Schluger recently co-authored an academic paper on the impact of tobacco use and secondhand smoke on susceptibility to TB, risk of developing active TB, the effectiveness of TB treatment and TB mortality. For more information, please see “Tobacco and Tuberculosis: A Deadly Combination” on page 32 of Lung Health Professional journal.

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