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Health Complex,
16-K, Gulberg III,
Lahore, Pakistan.


What is TB?

 Tuberculosis (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 year.

  • Someone in the world is newly infected with TB bacilli every second.

  • Overall, one third of the world's population is currently infected with TB.

  • 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).

Fact 1
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.

Fact 2
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.

Fact 3
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.

Fact 4
TB is a leading killer among people living with HIV, who have weakened immune systems.

Fact 5
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%.

Fact 6
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).

Fact 7
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.

Fact 8
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.

Fact 9
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 TB epidemic.

Fact 10
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)

Click here for further Data and Facts of Tuberculosis (WHO Report)