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Tuberculosis Cases totaled Half a Million more than Previously Estiamted

Update Date: Oct 22, 2014 10:11 AM EDT
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Tuberculosis
The Santa Clara Valley Medical Center is currently treating infants exposed to TB with antibiotic isoniazid. (Photo : michigan.gov)

The United Nations health agency, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that last year, there were nearly half a million more tuberculosis (TB) cases than previously estimated. According to the numbers, TB was linked to 1.5 million deaths in 2013.

"Following a concerted effort by countries, by WHO and by multiple partners, investment in national surveys and routine surveillance efforts has substantially increased," said Dr. Mario Raviglione, director of the WHO's Global Tuberculosis Program reported by TIME. "This is providing us with much more and better data, bringing us closer and closer to understanding the true burden of tuberculosis."

The WHO's "Global Tuberculosis Report 2014," also reported that nine million people developed TB. However, the number of people who get TB has been declining by an average of 1.5 percent per year. Out of the 1.5 million deaths, 360,000 of them had HIV, the incurable human immunodeficiency virus.

Overall, the WHO stressed that the death rate linked to TB has been falling over the past years. Since 1990, the rate has dropped by 45 percent. Since 2000, the report estimated that 37 million lives were save from TB due to more effective diagnostic screenings and treatment.

Even though the numbers associated with TB continue to fall, the report stressed that more can still be done. The report named TB the second leading killer from a single infectious agent with about three million cases still being "missed" and left untreated every year.

Katherine Floyd, WHO Coordinator for TB Monitoring and Evaluation, added according to the news release, "Domestic and international financing needs to step up to prevent millions of unnecessary deaths."

The report concluded that funding for TB is vital in reducing the number of deaths, new cases and missed cases. The WHO estimated that the annual funding has to be around $8 billion. However, there is roughly an annual shortfall of $2 billion.

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