London - The World Health Organization (WHO) Global Tuberculosis (TB) Programme today (Wednesday 28 October) releases its annual Global TB Report detailing the extent of the global TB epidemic.
The headline figures reveal that progress against HIV has outstripped efforts to tackle TB and that TB now claims more lives than any other infectious disease. In 2014, an estimated 1.5 million people died as a result of TB, whilst 1.2 million lost their lives as a result of HIV. An estimated 400,000 people died as a result of HIV-TB co-infection in 2014.
These figures come on the back of a report launched earlier this year by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global TB (APPG TB), a cross-party group that campaigns for greater efforts to tackle the disease, which highlighted that up to 75 million people could die from TB over the next 35 years due to resistance to anti-TB drugs at a global economic cost of $16.7 trillion. TB is the world’s deadliest drug-resistant infection, with 190,000 people dying from multi drug-resistant TB in 2014.
Co-chairman of the APPG TB, Nick Herbert MP (Conservative, Arundel & South Downs), said: “TB, a disease which has cost more lives than any other infectious disease in history, is still not recognised as the world’s biggest infectious killer.
“The recently agreed new Sustainable Development Goal to end TB by 2030 is laudable, but at the current rate of progress we won’t meet this target for another 200 years, let alone 15.
“We urgently need to match the ambition with a properly resourced global programme that prioritises new medicines and a vaccine to accelerate action against TB and reduce the risk of drug resistance.”
Mr Herbert is the driving force behind a new global network of parliamentarians called the Global TB Caucus. Launched a year ago in Barcelona, the Global TB Caucus has since expanded to encompass 610 political representatives from 97 countries.
Virendra Sharma MP (Labour, Ealing Southall), a member of the Global TB Caucus and co-chairman of the APPG TB, said: “TB is not just a threat in developing countries, it’s found in every country in the world and London has some of the highest rates in Western Europe. It is airborne, drug-resistant and infectious. If we do not tackle it abroad we will never eliminate it in the UK.”
According to the WHO, the annual funding gap required to combat the disease effectively now amounts to $1.4 billion a year, whilst there is a further gap of $1.3 billion in relation to research and development for new drugs, diagnostics and vaccines. In total, donor countries commit only $800 million a year to tackling TB, compared to an estimated $2.2 billion for malaria and $8.7 billion for HIV/AIDS.
Aaron Oxley, Executive Director of RESULTS UK, an NGO that works to mobilise resources to fight the global TB epidemic, said: “The WHO declared TB a global health emergency 22 years ago and since then nearly 45 million people have died. The world is sleep-walking through a crisis and the sheer scale of human misery that these numbers represent should be a wake-up call for us all.”
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Notes for editors:
1. The WHO Global TB Report is an annual publication which records progress against TB.
2. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global TB published a report called ‘The Price of a Pandemic’ using data drawn from the independent Review of AMR led by Lord (Jim) O’Neill and established by the Prime Minister in July 2014. The report can be accessed here, more information on the AMR Review can be found at www.amr-review.org
3. The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were launched in September 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly. Goal 3.3 of the SDGs targets the “end of the epidemics of HIV, malaria, TB and neglected tropical diseases” by 2030.
4. The Global TB Caucus is a unique international initiative that draws together parliamentarians from across the world. It was founded in October 2014 and is co-chaired by Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Health Minister for South Africa, and the Rt Hon Nick Herbert MP. More information on the Global TB Caucus can be found at www.globaltbcaucus.org
5. Rates of TB in UK constituencies can be found here.
6. Figures for donor spending on HIV and Malaria are drawn from the UNAIDS 2014 Factsheet and the 2014 World Malaria Report which can be accessed here.