World Falling Short Of 2020 Targets For ‘End TB’ Strategy

The world is not on track to reach the 2020 targets of the End TB Strategy, according to the World Health Organization’s latest Global Tuberculosis Report, published on Thursday.

On a more positive note, 2018 saw a reduction in the number of TB deaths with some 1.5 million deaths from TB, down from 1.6 million in 2017, according to a WHO press release. The number of new cases of TB also has been declining steadily in recent years. However, the burden remains high among low-income and marginalized populations: around 10 million people developed TB in 2018, WHO officials said in a press conference.

In Southeast Asia, a patient with multi-drug resistant TB receives his daily treatment.

While most high-burden countries are not on track to reach 2020 goals for ending TB as an “epidemic”, the report found that there are a handful of high TB burden countries in Africa and Asia that are on track to meet 2020 targets to reduce TB morbidity and mortality, as well as countries in WHO’s European Region.

Kenya, Lesotho, Myanmar, the Russian Federation, South Africa, the United Republic of Tanzania, and Zimbabwe were highlighted as high-burden countries on track for ending TB as an epidemic. Progress in TB control was credited to improved access to treatment, driven by technical advances in diagnostics and high-level political commitment to reducing the TB burden.

However, the total reduction in TB incidence between 2015 and 2018 was only 6.3%, falling considerably short of the End TB Strategy milestone of a 20% reduction between 2015 and 2020.

Globally, the number of TB deaths fell by 11%  between 2015 and 2018 was 11%, also less than one third of the way towards the End TB goal of a 35% reduction in TB deaths by 2020.

“WHO stands behind every country and person who decides that TB is not in their future,” Tereza Kaseva, director of WHO’s Global TB Programme, WHO, said in a press conference. “TB remains the world’s leading infectious killer,” she noted, calling for “urgent acceleration across all sectors” to reach the 3 million people that “missed out from receiving lifesaving TB treatment in 2018.”

“TB is a preventable, treatable, and curable disease. It is possible to accelerate our progress and reach our targets – it works when we have high level political commitments and those commitments are translated into actions.”


Image Credits: USAID Asia.

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