HomeWashington Letter2019 ▶ WHO Report Shows That Despite Progress, TB Remains the Leading Global Infectious Killer
WHO Report Shows That Despite Progress, TB Remains the Leading Global Infectious Killer

On October 17, the World Health Organization released the Global Tuberculosis Report 2019, which shares key 2018 global data on the disease. The report finds some progress but urges redoubled global efforts to end the pandemic by 2030, the goal set out in the United Nations Political Declaration to End TB in September 2018. The WHO report found that although TB deaths declined slightly, from 1.6 million in 2017 to 1.5 million in 2018, TB remained the leading global infectious disease killer. The number of new TB cases remained steady in 2017 at about 10 million, the same as in 2018.

The report found improvement in the detection and treatment of drug resistant (DR) TB in 2018, with one in three of the approximately half a million people with DR-TB enrolled in treatment in 2018, up from one in four enrolled in treatment in 2017. But the overall treatment success rate for people with DR-TB remains low at 56 percent. Another important gain is in TB preventive services, as 65 countries initiated TB preventive treatment for 1.8 million people living with HIV (PLHIV), up from under 1 million in 2017. This progress indicates that the global target of initiating TB preventive treatment for 6 million PLHIV between 2018 and 2022 can be achieved.

The Chair of the ATS International Health Committee, David Lewinsohn, MD, joined the WHO in calling for  renewed efforts to combat TB, saying, "We need to build on the increased global awareness and scientific advances in new TB diagnostics, treatments and prevention strategies. Now is the time for countries, including the U.S., to redouble efforts to eliminate TB.”  Dr. Lewinsohn continued, “In the U.S., we urge the Administration and Congress to ensure that we meet the U.S. commitment to end TB by fully funding our global and domestic TB programs through USAID, CDC and the Global Fund and TB research through the National Institutes of Health. We urge Congress to pass the End TB Now Act of 2019, S. 2438, and the Comprehensive TB Elimination Act, S. 834/H.R. 3080.”

Last Reviewed: October 2019