TB and Poverty

"TB is the child of poverty – and also its parent and provider.” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

TB disproportionately affects the poor

  • Nearly 9 million people develop active TB disease each year - and an overwhelming 95% of these cases occur in developing countries.[1]
  • Low-income populations often lack access to health-care facilities and treatment and prevention options, which delays the diagnosis of TB by several weeks or months. Poor nutrition and co-infection with other diseases, especially HIV/AIDS, can lead to the development of active TB.
  • Crowded living conditions, poor ventilation, and lack of access to clean water and sanitation all contribute to an increased susceptibility to TB.

TB worsens conditions of poverty

  • TB's economic impact on families is devastating. Families often sell what few assets they have to secure even partial treatment.
  • TB most severely affects individuals between the ages of 15-54, the most economically productive years of a person's life, hampering their ability to break free of poverty.
  • Studies suggest TB patients, on average, lose 3-4 months of work time, resulting in lost wages for patients and their families. Cases of drug-resistant TB can take as long as two years to treat and may result in significantly longer absences from work.
  • 20-30 percent of a family's household income can be lost as a result of a family member contracting active TB. If a patient dies the family loses about 15 years of income.[2]
  • Children whose parents become sick with TB are often pulled out of school in order to support the family. This perpetuates the cycle of poverty by jeopardizing the child's basic education and future work opportunities.
  • In Africa, TB has ravaged the population to such a degree that in 2005, the WHO and Africa's Ministries of Health declared TB to be a continent-wide emergency.

TB control and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals

  • A target for MDG 6 is to halt and begin to reverse the incidence of TB by 2015.
  • Global incidence rates have stabilized in all regions of the world except in Africa where the situation continues to worsen. High rates of HIV and drug-resistant forms of TB threaten to exacerbate the problem, making it unlikely that the region will meet the MDG target.

The economic benefits of fighting TB

  • The Global Plan to Stop TB requires US$47 billion between 2011 and 2015 to control TB globally. Funding required to control MDR-TB is expected to rise from US$1 billion in 2011 to US$2 billion is 2015.[3]
  • According to a World Bank study released in 2007 (The Economic Benefit of Tuberculosis Control), implementing the Global Plan to Stop TB yields a 10-to-1 economic benefit globally.[4]
  • In 97 countries where trends are measured, funding for 2012, from domestic and donor sources, is expected to reach US$4.4 billion, an increase from the US$3.5 billion in 2006.[5]

[1] National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (2012). Tuberculosis [topic page]. Bethesda: NIAID. Retrieved from http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/tuberculosis/Pages/Default.aspx.

[2] Stop TB Partnership. (2000). Tuberculosis and Sustainable Development. Geneva: Stop TB Partnership.

[3] Stop TB Partnership. (2011). The Global Plan to Stop TB 2011 – 2015. Geneva: Stop TB Partnership.

[4] Laxminarayan, R. et al. (2007). Economic Benefit of Tuberculosis Control [Policy Research Working Paper 4295]. Washington, DC: The World Bank.

[5] World Health Organization. (2011). Global Tuberculosis Control Report 2011. Geneva: World Health Organization.