Tuberculosis still kills millions

Tuberculosis still kills millions

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WHO report reports 1.5 million tuberculosis victims in 2013

The fight against the bacterial infectious disease tuberculosis has been very successful worldwide, so that the lung disease appeared to be eradicated in many areas. But especially in poorer countries, there is often a shortage of medication, which means that millions of people still fall victim to the disease. If something serious were to change here, many deaths could be prevented - but according to the World Health Organization (WHO), corresponding measures would be missing two billion dollars a year.

In principle, TB curable with antibiotics According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 1.5 people die of tuberculosis (TB) every year. A frightening result, because the disease can in principle be cured with an antibiotic and was therefore already defeated in many areas. Despite medical advances, tuberculosis is often still fatal, especially in poorer countries, because a lack of supply and the rise in resistant strains make the fight against the pathogens more difficult.

People with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. TB is caused by various types of mycobacteria and in most cases affects the lungs, but can also spread to all other organs in the body via the bloodstream. The transmission is usually via the inhalation of infectious droplets (aerosols), whereby the disease actually only breaks out in relatively few infected people. However, people whose immune system is weakened (e.g. older, malnourished or drug-addicted people, babies, toddlers) are particularly at risk if the TB remains untreated, and if left untreated, it causes death in around half of those affected within two to five years.

Around nine million people infected worldwide As the current “Tuberculosis Report 2014” shows, a total of around nine million people are suffering from the so-called “white plague”, with which the lung disease continues to lead the worldwide statistics of fatal infectious diseases. In absolute terms, Southeast Asia and the West Pacific regions are particularly affected, where 54 percent of all cases were counted. In relation to the size of the population, however, according to the report, the disease and death rate is highest in Africa - although only a quarter of the cases were recorded here.

Tight link between tuberculosis and HIV infection As the WHO further reports, the total number of deaths has been slowly declining in recent years - but the number of victims is still “unacceptably high”, with an estimated 37 million people in between 2000 and 2013 could have been saved by better diagnosis and therapy. The close connection between tuberculosis and HIV infection should be taken into account here, since at least 360,000 of the 1.5 million fatalities from TB were HIV-positive. “The progress made in combating MDR-TB has been hard fought and must be intensified. Limiting and reversing the epidemic requires immediate and sustained efforts by everyone involved, ”said Dr. Karin Weyer from WHO.

Funding gap of $ 2 billion complicates the fight against the diseaseHowever, according to the WHO, the current financial resources would not be sufficient to intensify the fight against the dangerous disease - instead of the required eight billion dollars (6.3 billion euros), only six billion dollars are currently available. A grievance that the organization believes should be addressed urgently: “In addition to the serious underfunding of research, US $ 8 billion a year is required to prevent, diagnose and treat TB and MDR-TB. National and international funding needs to be strengthened here to avoid millions of unnecessary deaths, ”said Katherine Floyd of WHO. (No)

Image: Sebastian Karkus /

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Video: Can we beat the worlds biggest infectious killer? BBC Tomorrows World


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