Half of WHO’s World Regions on Track To Meet TB Control Targets; Efforts Hampered in Africa Because of HIV/AIDS, Report Says
Three of the World Health Organization's six world regions likely will reach global tuberculosis control targets, while efforts to control the disease are hindered in Africa primarily because of complications related to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, according to WHO's annual Global Tuberculosis Control report released on Wednesday, the SAPA/Mail & Guardian reports. The report finds that the Americas, Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific regions are expected to achieve standards set by the DOTS control strategy, which include detecting 70% of TB cases and successfully treating 85% of those cases (SAPA/Mail & Guardian, 3/22). It also finds that 26 countries met targets one year ahead of schedule, including the high-burden countries of Vietnam and the Philippines. Five other high-burden countries -- Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia and Myanmar -- likely reached the targets by the end of 2005, but data needed to confirm this will not be available until the end of 2006 (WHO release, 3/22). "The trends and progress are clear and positive. Even in low-income countries with enormous financial constraints, programs are operating effectively and producing results," WHO Director-General Lee Jong-Wook said. However, he added that "figures released in this report still make grim reading." The report finds that there were 1.7 million TB-related deaths and almost nine million new cases in 2004, and the number of new infections is rising by 1% annually.
Africa, Eastern Europe
The 1% annual increase in TB cases is primarily because of the state of the epidemic in Africa, where the HIV/AIDS pandemic is fueling the spread of the disease (SAPA/Mail & Guardian, 3/22). Weak health infrastructures also are hampering efforts to curb TB in Africa, and many African leaders are not adequately investing in TB control measures, according to the report. Although African health leaders at the end of 2005 declared TB an emergency on the continent, response to the declaration has been slow and there is a need for more large-scale control plans that are supported by increased funding from governments and donors, the report says. In addition, the spread of multi-drug resistant TB in Eastern Europe continues to hinder treatment success rates worldwide. The report also finds that a 10-year funding gap of $31 billion must be bridged to meet targets set by the Global Plan To Stop TB 2006-2015, which include preventing 14 million TB-related deaths worldwide (WHO release, 3/22).
New global and country-level data on TB from the WHO's report is now available on www.GlobalHealthFacts.org.