October 23, 2013 – Today the World Health Organization (WHO) released new data on tuberculosis (TB), showing that TB is mutating faster than our incremental progress to control the airborne disease.
In addition to declaring multi drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) a ‘public health crisis’, the new report shows about three million people each year aren’t being diagnosed and getting the treatment they need. The slow and fragile progress that has been made against TB is further under threat by a $2 billion annual funding gap in 2013 and 2014.
“Ultimately, our global fight against TB is starved of political leadership and funding,” said Kolleen Bouchane, ACTION Director. “This new data clearly shows the massive disconnect between what the WHO is calling a crisis situation and a lackluster global response to TB.”
According to the report, TB incidence rates are falling, but only at about 2% globally. Further, about 1 in 5 of the 94,000 people diagnosed with MDR-TB (TB strains that are resistant to two of most commonly used drugs in the current four-drug regimen) are not being treated, and about 10% of these cases are morphing into even more dangerous and resistant TB strains.
ACTION agrees with the five key priority actions outlined by the WHO to accelerate progress against TB, and its assessment that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria is “absolutely essential” to scale up the response to TB in low- and middle-income countries with high-burdens of TB. Today, nearly 90% of international donor financing for TB is provided by the Global Fund, and its programs have put 11 million people on TB treatment.
“TB anywhere is TB everywhere. As an airborne disease that can be spread through the simple of act of coughing, decision makers have an obligation to ramp up our slowing fight against TB. At the Global Fund replenishment conference in December in Washington D.C., donor countries must step up and ensure the Global Fund receives the funding it needs to accelerate progress against TB, and ensure the current crisis of drug-resistant TB doesn’t spin out of our control,” said Bouchane.
ACTION is a global partnership of 10 advocacy organizations in donor and high burden countries working to influence policy and mobilize resources to fight diseases of poverty and improve equitable access to health services. ACTION’s priorities are ending the TB epidemic, and ending preventable child deaths.
For more information, or to be connected with our global network of health advocates:
Angela Pereira, Senior Communications Associate
(+1 202) 999-9545