World Health Organization Announces New Data on Global Tuberculosis

Report Shows $2 to $3 Billion Annual Funding Shortfall for Epidemic Response


Less than 1 in 5 Patients with Multidrug Resistant TB Diagnosed

Blair Hinderliter

October 17, 2012, Washington, DC – Today the World Health Organization released new data on the global TB epidemic. While the report highlights some welcome successes, it also projects a $2-3 annual gap in funding for TB through 2013. The report also documents a $1.4 billion annual gap in funding for research and development of new drugs, diagnostics and a vaccine.

“AIDS, TB and malaria are the world’s three most deadly infectious diseases. Yet funding available to fight TB lags far behind what’s available to fight AIDS and malaria,” said Kolleen Bouchane, Director of ACTION, an international partnership of global health advocacy organizations. “As a consequence of this neglect, the epidemic is becoming increasingly resistant to the meager arsenal of drugs available to fight it.”

WHO estimates that less than one in five individuals suffering from multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB)—defined as strains that are resistant to the two most powerful TB drugs isoniazid and rifampicin—are ever diagnosed. In India and China, however, the two countries with the highest levels of MDR-TB, less than one in ten people with MDR-TB are ever diagnosed. Extensively drug resistant TB—the next stage of mutation beyond MDR-TB—was first reported in 2008 and has now been discovered in 84 countries.

“If we stay on the current course, we are certain to see the widespread emergence of incurable TB strains,” said Bouchane. “The last time we had a new TB drug, Lyndon Johnson was President of the United States. We need new investment in R&D from both the public and private sectors to close the $1.4 billion funding gap and bring new tools to market.”

TB is the world’s leading infectious killer after HIV/AIDS. According to WHO, in 2011 an estimated 8.7 million people became ill with TB and 1.4 million died. TB is also a leading killer of women, responsible for an estimated 500,000 female deaths in 2011.

About ACTION: ACTION is a global partnership of advocacy organizations working to influence policy and mobilize resources to fight diseases of poverty and improve equitable access to health services. ACTION has partners in 10 countries and a secretariat based in Washington, DC.