What is TB?
(TB) is a contagious lung disease that spreads through the air. When people
with the disease cough, sneeze, talk or spit, they propel TB germs, known as
bacilli, into the air. Only a small number of the bacilli need to be inhaled
to cause an infection. However, not all people infected with TB bacilli will
become sick. The immune system either kills the germs, or "walls off" the TB
bacilli where they can lie dormant for years. Failure of the immune system
to control infection with TB bacilli leads to active disease, when TB
bacilli multiply and cause damage in the body. Left untreated, each person
with infectious TB will spread the germs to about 10 to 15 people every
Someone in the world is newly infected with TB bacilli every second.
Overall, one third of the world's population is currently infected
5% to 10% of people who are infected with TB become actively sick.
When a person with
infectious TB is identified (using a microscope to look for bacilli in a
sample of a person's sputum), a full course of the correct dosage of anti-TB
medicines should be started, with support of health and community workers or
trained volunteers. The most common anti-TB medicines are isoniazid,
rifampicin, pyrazinamide and ethambutol.
Supervised treatment helps
to ensure that an infected person completes the course of medicine to cure
TB and prevent its further spread. Treatment must be continued regularly and
uninterrupted for six to eight months. The internationally recommended
approach to TB control is DOTS, which is a cost-effective public health
strategy to identify and cure TB patients. The approach will prevent
millions of TB cases and deaths over the coming decade.
10 facts about tuberculosis
More than two billion people –
one third of the world’s total population – are infected with TB bacilli,
the microbes that cause TB.
One in every 10 of those people
will become sick with active TB in his or her lifetime. People living with
HIV are at a much greater risk.
WHO aims to reach all patients
through health systems and primary health care and is working with other
agencies to achieve the target under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
Tuberculosis (TB) is contagious and spreads through the air. If not treated,
each person with active TB can infect on average 10 to 15 people a year.
More than two billion people, equal to one third of the world’s total
population, are infected with TB bacilli, the microbes that cause TB. One in
every 10 of those people will become sick with active TB in his or her
lifetime. People living with HIV are at a much greater risk.
A total of 1.77 million people died from TB in 2007 (including 456 000
people with HIV), equal to about 4800 deaths a day. TB is a disease of
poverty, affecting mostly young adults in their most productive years. The
vast majority of TB deaths are in the developing world, with more than half
occurring in Asia.
TB is a leading killer among people living with HIV, who have weakened
There were 9.27 million new TB cases in 2007, of which 80% were in just 22
countries. Per capita, the global TB incidence rate is falling, but the rate
of decline is very slow - less than 1%.
TB is a worldwide pandemic. Among the 15 countries with the highest
estimated TB incidence rates, 13 are in Africa, while half of all new cases
are in six Asian countries (Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan
and the Philippines).
Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) is a form of TB that does not respond to the
standard treatments using first-line drugs. MDR-TB is present in virtually
all countries surveyed by WHO and its partners.
There were an estimated 511 000 new MDR-TB cases in 2007 with three
countries accounting for 56% of all cases globally: China, India and the
Russian Federation. Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) occurs when
resistance to second-line drugs develops. It is extremely difficult to treat
and cases have been confirmed in more than 50 countries.
WHO’s Stop TB Strategy aims to reach all patients and achieve the target
under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG): to reduce by 2015 the
prevalence of and deaths due to TB by 50% relative to 1990 and reverse the
trend in incidence. The strategy emphasizes the need for proper health
systems and the importance of effective primary health care to address the
The Global Plan to Stop TB 2006-2015, launched January 2006, aims to achieve
the MDG target with an investment of US$ 67 billion. This represents more
than a three-fold increase in investment from 2005. The estimated funding
gap is US$ 40 billion.
(Source: WHO Website)
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further Data and Facts of Tuberculosis (WHO Report)