Tuberculosis Epidemic Much Worse Than People Think – WHO

Staff Writer | RT News | October 23, 2014

The world’s preoccupation with the Ebola virus has eclipsed almost any attention to other health hazards. But the tuberculosis epidemic is now considered to be much more severe than before, the WHO has claimed in a report.  Back in the day tuberculosis (TB) was known as the ‘white plague’ for its tendency to make people skinny and pale, accompanied by frequent blood-flecked coughing. It was also known as ‘consumption’, with such famous patients as Anton Chekhov and George Orwell succumbing to the disease.

TB is considered to be the world’s second most ruthless killer after HIV/AIDS. Hopes of eradicating it completely are experiencing a considerable setback: the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Wednesday that last year saw twice as many new cases appear than previously estimated.  The 19th global report by the health body drew a grim picture with data pointing to 9 million cases in 2013, of which 1.5 million died from lack of available treatment or timely diagnosis.

Although the global mortality rate has declined by 45 percent since 1990, the fact that the disease is curable makes current rates look extremely high.  “Given that most deaths from TB are preventable, the death toll from the disease is still unacceptably high and efforts to combat it must be accelerated if 2015 global targets, set within the context of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), are to be met,” the report said.  The agency added in that some regions, particularly Eastern Europe and Central Asia are rated “severe” for epidemic levels, while successful treatment levels in many at-risk countries is “alarmingly low.”...