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WHO Says Global TB Cases Decline For First Time Ever But Warns Funding Gap, Resistant Strains Put Progress At Risk

New data published in the WHO’s 2011 Global Tuberculosis Control Report on Tuesday, “shows that the number of people who fell ill with [tuberculosis (TB)] dropped to 8.8 million in 2010, after peaking at 9 million in 2005,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The report shows that the TB death rate dropped 40 percent between 1990 and 2010, and all regions, except Africa, are on track to achieve a 50 percent decline in mortality by 2015,” the news service writes (10/11). “The countries the WHO especially noted for progress in the fight against the disease were Kenya, [Tanzania], Brazil and China,” Reuters reports (Selyukh/Ulmer-Nebehay, 10/11).

But the WHO “warned that substantial challenges lie ahead, with a projected gap in funding of $1 billion for 2012,” BBC News notes (McGrath, 10/11). “While the share of domestic funding allocated to TB rose to 86 percent worldwide for 2012, most low-income countries still rely heavily on external funding,” the U.N. News Centre writes. According to the news service, of the total funding shortfall, $200 million is for the multiple drug-resistant TB (MDRTB) response, which remains one of the biggest challenges (10/11). “In March of this year, the WHO warned that more than 2 million people will contract MDRTB by 2015,” Reuters writes (10/11). “Only 16 percent (46,000) of those with [MDRTB] are being treated at the moment,” the Guardian reports, adding “A new rapid test is being rolled out, which is expected to revolutionize the diagnosis of MDRTB” (Boseley, 10/11).

In related news, Russia’s Moscow Times reports on an action plan (.pdf) released by the WHO “that urges European and CIS countries to draft national programs to adopt quicker and more expensive methods of tuberculosis [TB] detection” in an effort to produce faster diagnoses. According to the newspaper, the plan “challenge[s] Russia to compete with neighboring countries for the best national plan to fight drug-resistant [TB],” and “[c]ountries with the best programs will be eligible for financing from the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the European Commission and other international agencies” (Krainova, 10/12).  

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.